Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mike's Diary: Nicolai Ceauşescu Visits Conservatorul Ciprian Porumbescu

I posted this elsewhere for the Bucharest folks, but then I thought some readers of this blog might find it amusing too.

I dragged out my Bucharest diary today for the first time in decades. From time to time I'll post of bit of in here. That is ... if I can stop laughing long enough to type. This one had me laughing out loud with tears streaming as I remembered this series of events.

Wednesday, September 29, 1971

Yesterday was kind of a bad day. I was wishing to be back in the US all day and not concentrating much on practicing. When I got back to my room, I realized it had been “looked at.” I know there was no cleaning lady that day. I was told to expect this to happen, but this is the first time I know it has happened.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, at 10:30 some official-looking person barged into my room and started yelling at me in Romanian, then switched to German, but it was so fast I couldn’t understand him. He made me sign a paper for something … who knows what!

President Ceauşescu is going to make a visit to the Conservatory on Friday. Today they made all the students get there at 8:00 (not me) to clean the whole school. They also started rehearsing an orchestra. Of course, all the students think it is a big joke, especially since he’s supposed to catch the school by surprise.

Thursday, September 30, 1971

You won’t believe what the students at the Conservatory had to do today. First, all the boys had to have haircuts and shave off any beards or mustaches. Then, for 2 hours they had to stand around the school and practice clapping. The director of the school of the school walked around like Ceauşescu, and they had to clap whenever he came by.

I have a lesson at 9:00 tomorrow, the time that he’s to be at school. Several of the students think that he will come into my lesson … Yuck! Although they didn’t tell me to get a haircut, I went to the barber with a friend so he could tell the barber what to do. He told him I’m American and I got the whole works! That kind of treatment in the US would be about $11.00. [Remember … this was 1971] Here it was 20 lei, about $1.10. I think it is the best haircut I’ve ever gotten.

Friday, October 1, 1971

President Ceauşescu’s visit was most amusing. I got to school very early for my 9:00 lesson, but discovered that all the practice rooms and studios were locked, and the man who gives out the keys had conveniently disappeared. Mr. Halmoş couldn’t even get a key. At 8:55 we went into the auditorium to wait for Ceauşescu who was due at 9:00. Once we were in the hall we couldn’t leave, so we waited until he came at 10:30. The orchestra played for about 2 minutes, and then he left. We still couldn’t get the key after he left, so we just gave up and left. I spent all afternoon wandering around and went into a beautiful old church with gorgeous icons.