Yeah, these stories have become the folklore of our group. The members were always the same: me, Romica, Vili, uncle Gigi, Geta Guşă, Geta Doban? at the beginning these six were permanent members. Then the Raicu brothers from Ploieşti, Costică }iganu, Mama Costică (Costică }iganu?s mother)? This was our group, always together. The one who started the whole thing and the one who had the most money was Geta. She still travels to China and has a store on Calea Victoriei. Of course her business can?t compare to ours anymore. She was the first to go there, and then the first to make wholesale imports of tobacco. She was the first to set up a firm dealing in silver. Actually many of us had firms, but hers was special because it dealt specifically in silver and gold. She was the first to deal in silver at Prisma2, and I followed her example a week later. I brought my silver from Thailand. She was the first to deal with silver ? She?s in a league of her own, you know!
She went to India, to Madras, and brought a wholesale transport of tobacco. Back then tobacco was sold right outside the factory gates. In Romania, immediately after the Revolution, the market simply froze. Nothing was sold or bought anymore. She knew people who gave her tips and she herself had good intuitions about the market? She calculated everything by the ton? She brought containers with tobacco several times a year, can you imagine that?! She was the wealthiest of the group. She would lend money to everybody else, with an interest of course. This happened because she, as she had been a tour guide and the first of us to bring containers of goods by ship, had stopped bringing things by plane. This kind of transport was too expensive and limited to a certain amount. She was also the wealthiest of the group.
When we started transporting things by ship, the goods would take around forty days, maybe a month and a half to arrive. Sometimes there were also delays. We brought them over from Constanţa and got them through customs here, in Bucharest. I remember that the first time when they transported our cargo, clothes it was, by plane, there was a pack in the luggage compartment containing mace reed, which we had to get through customs. We had mace reed instead of leather jackets in that pack. The Chinese had fooled us. They had cut the pack, had taken the clothes out and then had sealed the packs now containing mace reed. Back then there were no cargo firms in China. Everything was done by unauthorized persons. Later, in ?92 ? ?93, Panasonic came and started selling things legally and made shipments too ? Oh, my God! There were so many people in those storehouses where they prepared our packs! They were Russians, Bulgarians, Serbs, all packing up goods. Especially the Russians.
After that I started buying silver. I brought over it from Thailand because I had difficulty selling merchandise from China once Chinese tradesmen had become more numerous. That was when I started looking for something else. And we found Thailand, and after that India ? I traveled there regularly for two or three years and business was good. Then Tarom cancelled the flights ? I never understood why the direct flight to China was cancelled by the Tarom guys. Nobody can understand politics. At the beginning they cancelled the flight to China through Karachi, where I used to buy this and that from the airport, as prices there were really good. They cancelled this flight and introduced a direct one, no stop on the way. Next they cancelled the Thailand flight, then the one to India. No wonder that the Chinese tradesmen conquered out market slowly but surely ?
In ?96 the changes in the political system were followed by changes in customs regulations. The Peasants? National Party came up with new ideas, with their own policy and the system, as with any government change, also changed. Everything changes at a moment like this. And so the head of the customs department was also changed, but I can?t recall his name. When the PN} (the Peasant National Party) got political power, they changed him too and, a few days after that, he ran away to America and never came back. The prices changed too and everything else, for that matter ? Up to that point, a blouse was worth a dollar at customs. With the new regime they put a fixed price, five dollars a blouse. Everything had a fixed price at customs: shirts, T-shirts, dresses. You couldn?t afford to make imports anymore, as you bought a blouse for two dollars there and here you had to pay five for customs taxes. It was only natural that things would become less ? profitable.