Performing in Romania – Part 2

Posted by tobymuresianu on Oct 10, 2012 in Travel |

Rain poured down from the gray skies of Bucharest. I pulled my coat closer and stepped on the train, wondering what I might find at my family’s ancestral home in Transylvania. Okay, I just wanted to write that sentence, but it was true.

As mentioned in Part 1, I was travelling from Bucharest to Brasov, Romania, where some of my ancestors lived – specifically Andrei Muresianu, author of the Romanian National Anthem, whose house had been turned into a museum.

On arriving, while I was pretty sure the museum was locally important, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to find it on my own. I got into a cab and asked to go the Muresianu family museum. “Where?” he asked. I named the square where it was located. “Where?” he asked again. I reconsidered the “locally important” thing.

Finally, through a mixture of basic English, Spanish and Romanian, he smiled, nodded, and drove me about 20 minutes to the “Mures hotel” in a completely different part of town. I got a tourist map of Brasov from the hotel and we were able to navigate to the square.


Home sweet ancestral home.

Move over, Hollywood!

Move over, Hollywood!

Translylvanian squares, apparently, are pretty typical for Europe. One or two shops were Dracula-themed, but Vampires didn’t seem to be a huge contributer to the overall economy, for (culturally) better or for (financially) worse. Then I turned into a corner and there it was – the holy grail of my ancestry.

Entrance to Muresianu House

Not pictured: Choir of angels

On entering, I was greeted by a friendly older curator who wanted to help but didn’t speak English. He attempted to solve this problem by speaking Romanian louder and slower. I wasn’t sure whether he just wanted me to know how it felt for foreigners to visit America.

I took out my ID and attempted to communicate that I was a member of the Muresianu family, unsure if he’d figured that out from the fact that I was visiting the museum. He gave me a personal tour, though I’m pretty sure anyone would have gotten one, since there was nobody else there.

It was a pleasant, well-maintained museum with a few rooms. The first one was focused on Andrei Muresianu and contained photographs, a bust, and a few badass portraits:

That's right!

That’s my granddaddy!

I drew a picture of a family tree on some scrap paper and showed it to the guide, hoping to figure out how many generations back I was descended from Andrei Muresianu. The guide happily lead me over to one printed on a wall which, to my shock, showed that Andrei Muresianu had no grandchildren.

That's right!

Never mind!

I wasn’t sure what to think. Had my grandfather, when immigrated to the US, just made up a new identity? The guide said I might be descended from a different branch, but I had to do some introspection. Was the blood that ran through my veins the blood of the man in the painting, holding the glowing document while peasants cowered before it? or was it the man who used that guy’s name to get laid? I was not optimistic.

The Muresianu family. Not pictured: Me

The Muresianu family. Not pictured: Me

After looking at the exhibits for a few more minutes, I went to leave but the guide insisted that I look at a different room full of old musical instruments. I wasn’t sure what to do but felt like it would be bad form to start playing them (particularly as I was no longer positive I was part of the family).

I looked at them for a few minutes, then went to leave, but was guided to another room full some kinds of rocks and crystals apparently on loan from a nearby museum. A guide put on a Romanian film about them. I think they turned the volume up a little higher so I could understand.

Phallic rock exhibit, Brasov, Romania

Phallic rocks are the same in every language.

I got back to the train station about 15 minutes before my train left – ordinarily fine, but the ticket line wasn’t moving at all. Looking forward the teller was frenetically entering each transaction in a computer, in a manual ledger, and separately running it on the register in an attempt (from what I could tell) to further illustrate the problems with socialist economies. Mission accomplished.

As people pressed forward, the guy next to me said if we missed it there was another train afterwards, though it took twice as long – which made me nervous, as it was the last one I could get and still make my show. 25 minutes later, we’d missed our first train and were about to miss the second when we got to the front of the line just in time for the teller to slam down a “Position Closed” sign.

To be continued in part 3!

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