I Could Boast Myself that I Succeed in Adapting to Almost Anything
Chiara Louise Gosden

            Another thing I got harder used to are the shops, they are amusing in a way; I mean the shops where the goods are somewhere on shelves behind counters, especially when it is about clothes. You have a look at the clothes from a distance and the shop assistant looks at you. For example- you see a folded pullover. You don?t know if it has a pattern or not. You ask for it, you unfold it and you notice that there is a pattern on it and you hand it back. And you say: ?I would like to see the pink one too?. ?Which one, this one??   ?No, lower.? ?This one?? asked the shop assistant. ?No, to the right.? Finally she finds it and gives it to you. But you don?t like it. You feel ashamed that you don?t like it and you have to disturb her. But in the meanwhile you see a T-shirt that winks at you. You can?t help and ask for it! ?Yes, right away. Don?t you need the pullover any longer?? the shop assistant asks you sharply. You don?t like the T-shirt either. What shall I do, I ask myself: shall I buy it because I am ashamed or shall I give it back and not set foot in this shop again? Difficult question... So, any time I see a counter and the goods behind it and a shop assistant, I turn back from the door.

            I have been terrified by the retail sale because you can?t buy just one cigarette. Well, I could go with Cătălin and share with him but how should I go there to ask for two things or batteries or articles for personal use. I asked my father too: what shall I do? Shall I go and buy by piece, one piece taken out of a packet? My father wrote me to buy a whole packet, to check it to be sealed, because you never know. When you see things displayed on counters or in windows you might be given the one in the window ? this seems very strange to me. Well, I understand that people buy according to their possibilities. You see that you don?t have enough money this month, you buy the next month, and yet it is still strange to me. Or buying wholesale, it is with us too, but for candies, not coffee or pasta. But I like this because you can see and buy if you like. If you don?t like anything, then you throw the whole packet with us.

Many things have shocked me. When I first entered the kitchen of the children?s home, there was a cut hen, it didn?t have a head or legs, they were in the sink and somebody wanted to take out its viscera. I saw hen only in shop fronts? Well, I didn?t live in the country and I guess the one who has poultry in his yard does the same. I visited another lady and her daughter was scaling a fish. I entered, I saw and I walked out? I saw blood, I felt sick. How can people do such things? There were many things in the beginning and I would write my mother lots of pages. I think she has kept those letters. My mother is an English teacher with a private school belonging to the Medicine Faculty, father works with the European Commission in the field of science and research and he travels very much to present the research which is offered now by the European Commission.

I have learned to cook. I even didn?t know what mother used for her sauces; I didn?t know to make one. Catalin?s sister taught me to cook. When I used to tell my mother that I didn?t know what I would do, as I couldn?t cook, she would tell me: Well, can you cook? Yes, you can cook. That?s what I do even now, if I want to cook an English dish, I open the cook book and I prepare it, but I need an English cook book.

Cătălin: Yes, if you use a Romanian cook book you have to taste all the time, wait that I need I don?t know what.

Chiara: How should I know its taste? In the English cook books they write 253 grams of flour and then 253 grams of? In the Romanian books they write? at a suitable temperature, what does suitable mean? We use degrees, you heat to 180 degrees. I sent my mother a recipe like that: you put it at a suitable temperature. Well, well we shall use a temperature she told me she could understand because when she was little and my grandma was alive, things were the same: medium, big or little heat that is a suitable temperature. When I told her that the bathroom was at the back of the garden and that was dark till I got there because there wasn?t a bulb? mother told me: if I sent this letter to grandma she will know for sure what it is about because she grew up in the same conditions. I told her: so I live the life my grandma, who is now 60 or 70, lived. When I was in Maramureş the toilet was a sort of a little house but the timber at the back were not to the ground and the hens could get in. I was thinking: Lord, what shall I do? They did not have running water they came with a pail from the well. When I washed in the morning, I thought of waiting a little longer until the water got warmer. Then I had the first shock, because I had never imagined that something like that could exist. It seemed unlikely to be. It seemed to be the atmosphere of fairy tales or one which existed in the remote past. My parents like stuffed cabbage very much and they always ask us to make some more and when we leave Romania we take vine leaves with us and make them there, I wrap them up, I am patient because I?m on holiday.

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