It is 35 years ago that I came to Bucharest, with a suitcase, a shipped crate with office material to start a representative office and a contract for 6 months. My intention was to stay maximum 1 and a half years and then move on to a more exotic country, more exciting! I was never in Romania before and I knew that the summers were hot and Ceaucescu destroyed people’s private homes to build blocks for a better live for them. On the map Bucharest has approximately he same latitude as Rome so I said good-bye to strong winters and especially good-bye to the terrible air pollution that Linz had at the time from the heavy industry.
A few weeks after my arrival for days on end there was a wind straight from Siberia that froze me to the bones and we had about a meter of snow and no snow cleaning on the streets. My fancy overknee boots (yes, they were in fashion also 35 years ago) came in very handy in visiting companies by foot and most people were astonished that I had arrived at that weather.
It was not ‘love at first sight’, but something caught my liking despite the winter and despite the unhindered exhaust from the diesel engines of the buses, the darkness in the city and the holes in the sidewalks, not to mention the holes in the roads. No vehicle had a catalysator installed and the buses, on accellaration emitted huge black clouds. So much to espacing from the pollution in Linz! It took years and we all forgot about those times, until the buses and trucks changed and emissions matter also in Bucharest.
My community at the beginning were the few foreigners that were here then and even among them I was like an alien because I did not belong to an embassy, nor to another official institution. The few foreign business people had romanian roots or came to visit. It came down to me and the representative of Austrian Airlines, who actually lived in Bucharest. There sure were a few more, but they did not mingle with that crazy Austrian woman that thought to do business in Romania!
I liked my work from the very first day, I loved the freedom I had, to explore and come up with ideas, possibilities and opportunities to work here. And I started to discover the city. My first great love was Harastrau park. I spent there as much time as possible and I started to know every tree. I bought a camera and explored Bucharest’s hidden corners. Springtime came over Bucharest and in 2-3 weeks the city changes totally into an explosion of green and flowers, an energy so rejuvenating and regenerating, that I still cannot withstand. During many winters, I promised myself that I would cancel my revolving contract in spring, so that before the next winter I would be somewhere else. Springtime always made me forget this plan, until I admitted first to myself only, that I am not leaving from here anyway.
A few months over a year into my contract, revolution happened, Ceausescu was no more and I had freedom of doing business. There was so much work I could dive into and I did. People talked to me, I met so many new situations and learned such a lot about this Romania. For years I was busy creating, while I constructed businesses, changed approaches and adapted to the ever-changing present situation.
I do not like roller coasters, but I love life situations that are evolving and taking turns like a roller coaster. There were some terrible business situations that gave me deep lessons and sharpened my instincts.
Today, yet another spring time in Bucharest, I can safely say that this city is my home! I still go home to Austria, mainly because of my family and because of my memories from there. I love Austria, but I am at home in Romania!
Thank you for everyone on my way in Romania so far and in future, thank you for all the lessons and opportunitites, thank you for the friendships and love that I have received! I am deeply grateful to all of you that accompanied me a bit or from a long time on my way and I am proud of myself to have said ‘yes’ when nobody believed that I could have a happy and fulfilled live in Romania.