Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 23:54:48 -0700
From: ef
Subject: transylvania


okay, so the last thing i sent was supposed to have the subject line "transylvania", erdely in hungarian.

hope it got to all of you. i cc'd it to several places at once and the net here is screwy.

we really really have to figure out some way to help people here. their situation is very bad. they joke that before communism fell, they had work, money but there was nothing to buy. now they have no work... and the ones that still do have work get paid a pittance. oh yes, now there are things to buy indeed... only... no one can afford to buy anything, including for many, food.

that kid i mentioned... i found him searching through garbage. i followed him for a while, watching. what was he looking for. a mother with a kid, the kid pushing a bicycle, passed. he watched them pass, roundeyed, staring.

so i went up to him and asked him, what. what, i said, why are you looking through the garbage. a toy, he said. i'd like to find a toy. he was looking to see if he could find something. he had found two plastic boxes so he had them in his arms.

he was such a little kid, someone had done a real bad job of shaving his head. it was full of nicks. he was wearing nothing but a grownoutof pair of pants. barefoot. how old are you, i said. he said, five years.

so i said, well, why don't we go buy you a toy then. what would you like. a bicycle, he said. don't think i can afford that, i said, so lets try for something else.

i had seen a toystore on my walkabout, so we went off to find it. down a steep street. here? he said, is this the toystore? he peeked in a door. grocery store, i said, the toystore is further on. so he took my hand and we kept walking. he kept looking in store doors.

three blocks later we found the toystore. he turned round and around in the middle. oh, he said, oh. a kid's mother was buying a waterpistol. one of those, he said, can i have one of those. one of those, i said to the salesgirl, and could you please put some water in it. but you can have something else too, i said to the kid. can i have an airplane, he said. an airplane, i said to the sales girl. no airplanes, she said. okay then, i said to the kid, lets look around for something else. he said, can i have a kittycat, looking at some stuffed toys. sure, i said, but hey, i see some neat trucks over here. oh, he said, oh. the big red one, he said, the big red one!

so we bought the big red truck and the water pistol. then we sat on a curb and we played a bit. he sprayed me with the pistol and then i sprayed him with the pistol. he giggled.

you hungry? i said. thirsty? let's go buy a cocacola. so we went into a place, sat at a table with two cokes. a cake he said, can i have a cake. so we had the cake too, sitting at the table.

he ate half the cake. we wrapped up the rest and put it in the truck. the truck now had the waterpistol and the halfcake.

there was a fruitstand outside. he pointed to something, he said i need one of those. what, i said. i didn't understand what he said. a banana? i said, lets have the banana too, and those cookies. he took them and he put those in the redtruck too. then he pointed again, i need one of those. what? what? the fruitstand lady said, he wants a plastic bag, that will be 2000 lei for one of those. about a dime.

he took the bag and then carefully stuffed the red truck with the pistol, the halfcake, the banana and the cookies in it. i'm kinda lost around here, he said, how do i get back. so then we walked back the same way we came. walked up the steep street.

he said, brother, brother, little sister, mommy. he said their names but that doesn't matter here. brother, brother, sister mommy, hugging the stuffedfull plastic bag. this way, he said, this way, hurrying now.

we got to the top of the street. we have to say goodbye now, i said. my train is leaving in a halfhour. okay he said, we will say goodbye now. goodbye goodbye, waving. then running off, hugging the bag to his chest, goodbye goodbye.

this is the way it really happened in marosvasarhely.

you guys have no idea what it's like here. oldladies begging in the street for food money cause pensions are about 200,000 lei a month. that's about 10 bucks.

that's one of the reasons i have to go back, after i finish here. i gotta try to find that kid again, the kid with the toys for his family. maybe i'll find him and maybe i'll have enough money left for that bicycle. if not, then maybe we can find an airplane.