Those of you who have read my posts know I write about Romania in general whether it’s about innovation, start-ups, amazing places, art & cultures, traditions etc, so this new post won’t come as a surprise. Lately, I came to realize that taking a sabbatical year was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done… and it’s not just about the fact that you get to do those things you really wanted to do, but never found the right time. Mostly, it’s about the people you get to meet when least expected … This is the case of my meeting with painter and artist Ciprian Istrate whose A’TOPIA exhibition is now opened for the public at Galateca in Bucharest. He’s one of those great storytellers who do not use many words, but colors, imagination and talent to send his artistic messages to the world.


One of the first things you’ll read about Ciprian Istrate is that he loves the search, “the constant tearing apart of the landmarks” as he likes to say. And, if you take the time and look at his paintings, you’ll understand that this is not just a simple statement meant to impress the audience.

A’TOPIA is Ciprian Istrate’s first solo show at Galateca Gallery exhibition space. In case you are in Bucharest, take the time and go see A’TOPIA exhibition which is open between July 13 – September 3, 2017. For more details, please check Galateca Facebook page.

Paintings @ Ciprian Istrate
Paintings @ Ciprian Istrate

It’s on purpose I did not illustrate this article with the paintings you can admire when visiting A’TOPIA 🙂

In a world that lives under the sign of violence, populated with new kind of angels, with questionable values, Istrate proposes to it viewers an introspection and at the same time an outside reflection of the consciousness. His paintings tell the story of dangerous oneiric excess by taking an absolute and full responsibility of his own the state of freedom. The mirror-eyes of the characters, the mirror-consciousness, the military helmet, the war within us, the war of the world … it all reveals viewers a personal perspective that is visually translated in a code which needs to be decrypted.

Paintings @ Ciprian Istrate
Paintings @ Ciprian Istrate

The viewer’s relationship with the work of art is alive, empathic, definitive. The portraits are well studied compositions which may seem both narrative and decorative at a first sight, yet becoming disturbing and unsettling, when you want to communicate with them. It is an ongoing movement of the image between what is real and what is illusive, bearing the signs of timelessness. As the curator of Istrate exhibition says, Iulia Gorneanu, “A’TOPIA is the place without a place where this encounter happens”.

Ciprian Istrate – the painter

Ciprian Istrate
Ciprian Istrate

A graduate with major in church painting from Iasi Orthodox Theology Faculty, Ciprian Istrate chooses the easel after 20 years of painting tens of churches and iconostasis, and by consequence thousands of portraits. He has worked in many techniques, but mostly fresco painting. This technique of craftsmanship and speed is the one that Michelangelo considered to be “the most manly”. Today, only the approach of large painting surfaces remind us of the Istrate’s passion for fresco painting.

His paintings are to be found in many parts of the world—Romania, United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, France, Germany and Italy. He had numerous solo and group exhibitions both in Romania and abroad. He also participated biennials and art fairs. For Ciprian Istrate, art remains art, regardless of the transformations it experiences and regardless of how the others position themselves in relationship with it… and the painting that Istrate had thrown to the pigs in the exhibition that took place in a farm in Basta County reflects his artistic credo the best. This piece of work is part of Istopia installation that can be admired in the exhibition.

The First Biodiesel Locomotive in Romania

It took over a year for a team of engineers at Reloc-Electroputere VFU Craiova to build the first biodiesel (B100) or vegetal oil locomotive in Romania.

Biodisel locomotive
The first Romanian locomotive running exclusively on biodiesel (B100) or vegetable oil. Source: 

In a time when car manufacturers such as BMW and Volkswagen are faced with accusations of falsifying the reports regarding the exhaust emissions or fuel venting of their models, a team of Romanian engineers at Reloc-Electroputere VFU Craiova recently announced that they have successfully tested the first locomotive in Romanian running exclusively on pure biodiesel (B100) or vegetable oil.

The first Romanian locomotive running exclusively on biodiesel (B100) or vegetable oil. Source:

At least 50% less emissions

According to Calin Gratian, President of Reloc-Electroputere VFU Craiova, this revolutionary new locomotive is extremely friendly with the environment as it will not pollute it. “It does not contain sulphur and the emissions are 50% lower than those of classic diesel engines.”

The engine, equivalent to a traditional diesel-powered engine in power and performance, but with much lower polluting emissions, was modified from one of the most widely used diesel engines in Romania, namely LDE 2100 CP. Over the years more than 2000 LDE 2100 CP have been produced in Romania.

Within the next months tests for the new engine will continue to monitor the performance during more difficult weather conditions. When finalized, mass production for the biodiesel engine will start.

Promising future for the Romanian biodiesel locomotive

Reaching a speed of  100km/hour, the representatives of Reloc-Electroputere VFU Craiova are convinced that the new locomotive has a great export potential.

“We know this is a unique product in the world. As far as we know, there’s another similar project in Canada, but the size and amplitude of our project is much higher. there are major technical differences between the two projects,” says Cezar Buica, one of the teams’ engineers. “This project has been kept secret and only those working on it knew how the final product will look like.”  

Electroputere VFU Craiova has a history of over 50 years of contributing and innovating for the Romanian infrastructure system.  This translates into more than 8000 designed, built, rebuilt, repaired or modernized locomotives, subways, trams and over 20 design patterns for creating innovative locomotives, trams or subways.

Due to a significant amount of investments, cooperation with prestigious companies from Switzerland, Sweden, France, Germany and Italy, and the efforts of many specialists, Electroputere VFU brand became known in over 10 countries on two continents.

In May 2015, Grampet Group, the biggest private railway holding from Central and South Eastern Europe and Caterpillar Inc., the biggest engine producer from the United States of America, and Electroputere VFU have established a strategic partnership for the construction and development of new locomotives. The collaboration of the two companies resulted in the launch of a new hydraulic diesel locomotive of 1260 HP (May 2015), produced by Electroputere VFU Craiova. It is the first the first diesel locomotive produced in Romania since the fall of the Ceausescu regime

Biodiesel engines testing

Biodiesel is technologically feasible for blending in diesel traction systems and although emissions of rail engines have been a major concern across the world, there have been few really successful projects such as the Romanian one.

According to, there is relatively little experience with using biodiesel in railways.  A number of European rail operators such as French SNCF, German DB, Czech CD, Hungarian MAV have carried out bench and field trials on rail vehicle and engines.

In 2009, a five-month trial of biodiesel was undertaken in what Canadian Pacific claimed to be its first use with locomotives operating in the cold Canadian climate. Four GE Transportation AC4400 locomotives in dedicated service between Calgary and Edmonton are using a 5% biodiesel blend from November until the end of March 2010.

Amtrack 2015
Amtrack 2015 – emissions of locomotive NC 1810 were measured en route from Raleigh to Charlotte. Source: NC State University

Amtrack 2015 – emissions of locomotive NC 1810 were measured en route from Raleigh to Charlotte. Source: NC State University

In spring 2015, Amtrack team led by Dr. H. Christopher Frey led a study to evaluate biodiesel for railroad applications. Over 400 hours of measurements were made during Amtrak passenger service between Raleigh and Charlotte. NC State University reported that:  “The biofuels were found to be effective in reducing emissions of hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter air pollution, although there was some increase in emissions of nitrogen oxides. However, these fuels also reduce net carbon dioxide emissions. No adverse effects on locomotive operation were observed, and there was little difference in fuel cost. This new information will be helpful to rail operators in making decisions regarding possible adoption of biofuels.”

Personal hope

“Environmental pollution is an incurable disease. It can only be prevented.” Barry Commoner

There are people dreaming of leaving a healthier and cleaner environment to the next generations; each every little gesture they do to protect our planet contributes to a better future. We do see brands aware of their mission for the future and joining forces to address in any way they can issues such as pollution, environmental degradations or climate control. There are more or less successful attempt of regulating the market businesses operate in aiming to protect the environment… yes, there’s so much more to be done, yet it’s up to us. I’m not sure whether Commoner was right when claiming pollution is an incurable disease, yet there’s one thing I’m sure of and that is hope dies last. 

Wearing Romanian IA on the Wedding Day

I was born and raised in Bucharest, yet the stories my dad told me about his family, their life histories and the traditions they treasured kept calling me… so, from the moment I took my driving license, the almost 400 km road from Bucharest to Neamt County seemed very short. It is during one of this trips that I’ve discovered what it meant for my ancestors to wear our Romanian IA on their wedding day …

Every trip I take to one of these places, either Valea Seaca, Varatec, Agapia, Bistrita, Bicaz and so on, bring to light another story of family members, people I never met, yet their personal histories are somehow part of me… I guess there’s a connection that never gets lost no matter how many years go bye… they live through thousands of invisible wires that make us who we are.

Family wedding

This time, the story I’ve learned is about the Romanian traditional folk costumes from Bistrita and Bicaz (Neamt County) that my relatives used to wear not only on Sundays when going to church, but also on the day of their wedding.

wedding day
Aneta and Niculae Gavril Dragusanu (Secu village) – on their wedding day (late 1920’s) wearing their Romanian national folk costumes

From my grandparents with love …

St. Mary’s day brought me back to my father’s home… there my grandparents raised 7 children and tens of grandchildren and grand-grandchildren.  I never thought I would still find some things that brought tears to my eyes. Not only that I’ve found and read my grandfather’s will, but, kept in an drawer of an old dark sideboard, I’ve come across some pictures that touched my soul. These pictures below I want to share with you in this unexpected update of this post (10.45pm)

wedding day
1. Maria and Ilie Bodaproste (Valea Seaca village) – my grandparents on their wedding day (May 18, 1929) wearing their hand-made folk costumes (Valea Seaca village, Neamt region); 2. My dearest grandmother, Maria Bodaproste. The picture was taken in late 1920’s in L.Hersovici photo studio (Tg.Neamt); 3. My aunt, Victoria Bodaproste & Victor Bendrea on their wedding day (1949).
Wearing Romanian IA on the wedding day
1. My uncle, Ioan Bodaproste (Badia Jenica) with one of his sweethearts (late ’40). 2-3. Relatives in Piatra-Neamt area wearing the Romanian national folk costumes.

Hopefully, these pictures will inspire you to go back to your roots…

The traditional folk costume

The traditional folk costume of Romanian women living in Neamt region has several clothing pieces:

  • IA – the traditional blouse (aka IA) made of home;
  • Poale – the white long skirt wore by women is embroided at the bottom with the same elements sewed on the IA;
  • Catrință – similar to a skirt, it covers the poale; gold and silver threads are used if catrință is used only for special occasion (like a wedding, Christian holiday etc);
  • Bârneață – it’s a girdle or waistband tied above the catrință;
  • Bundiță – it’s a vest with rich hand-made embroidery; both women and men wear it;
  • Casâncă – it’s a black handkerchief or wrap women wear after they get married; in some villages, women wear a wrap with either floral elements or silk fringes called bariz.

IA’s rich embroidery & natural colors

The embroidery has floral, geometrical, zoomorphic and even anthropomorphic elements, which are generally sewed in two or three colors, depending on the geographic area where are made. The most used elements one can identify are flowers, buds, grapes, grape leaves, oak leaves, acorn, snail, flies, ram horns etc. After the II World War, sparkles and beads were added in the embroidery, especially of the folk costumes people were on special occasions.

In terms of color, the embroidery was done in one color; black, red, burgundy and blue; for floral elements, other colors were added (yellow, orange, green, violet etc.). The threads were painted with colors obtained from various plants and flowers such as alder bark, walnut leaves, green walnut bark, onion peel, Crocus Vernus (both purple and orange), Perforate St John’s-Wort (Hypericum Perforatum), Origanum Vulgare.

Opinci is the Romanian name of the footwear both women and men were wearing more than 50 years ago. They were made out of pork are cow skin. Today people were opinici only on special occasions.  As you can see in the pictures, quite often people would choose to wear leather shoes.

The only thing I would like to add… I’m grateful and lucky at the same time for having such wonderful people in my life who shared with me these stories.

July’s 22 Science Medals for Romania

In case anyone doubted, Romania does have talent! And it’s not all about great developers or musicians; it is also about high-school students from various regions of the country winning 22 science medals (physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry and informatics) and July it’s not over yet!

Romania rank 1st in Europe at Physics Olympics

In the past two weeks Romanian national physics team won a total of five medals at Physics International Olympics:

  • Gold medal: Stefan Eniceicu & Tudor Cretu (Bucharest, Informatics Highschool)
  • Silver medal: Cristian Alexandru Frunza & Razvan Radu (Bucharest, Informatics Highschool)
  • Bronze Medal: Ileana Rugina (International Informatics Highschool)

This score ranks Romania 1st in Europe and 10th worldwide at Physics.

The 46th edition of the Physics International Olympics 2015 took place in Mumbai, India (July 4-12). More than 190 high-school students from 48 countries competed for the medals.

Romania rank 1st in Europe at Mathematics Olympiad

International Mathematics Olympics
International Mathematics Olympics

The six medals won by our young mathematicians at the 56th International Mathematics Olympics (July 4-15, Chiang Mai, Thailand) edition ranks Romania 13th in the world and 1st in Europe.

The gold medal went to Simona Diaconu, the only girl in the team. Theodor Andrei Andronache,  Marius Ioan Bocanu, Ciprian Mircea Bonciocat  and Stefan Spataru brought back home 3 silver medals. Andrei Bogdan Puiu got the bronze medal.

Gold medal at International Biology Olympiad

 Mircea Dan Mirea
Mircea Dan Mirea. Photo: Mesagerul de Covasna

Last week at the The International Biology Olympiad 2015, Mircea Dan Mirea, a XIIth grade student from Craiova, won the first gold medal ever for Romania.

Mircea has quite a great record when it comes to biology competitions: 5 international medals, 15 national awards and diplomas and tens of local and regional ones.

The International Biology Olympiad (IBO) is an annual event where students from all over the world compete on their knowledge of biology. 2015 took place in Aarhus, Denmark. 62 countries across the globe had their national teams competing at IBO2015  The participants are school students up to age 19. To take part in the IBO, the students must be in the top four in the National Biology Olympiad in their individual countries.

10 medals for Romania at Tuymaada

Medals for Romanians @ Tuymaada International Olympiad

Ten more medals for Romanian students won at the the multidisciplinary Tuymaada International Olympiad organized in the Republic of Saka, Russia.

  • Chemistry: 1 gold medal for Cristian Robert Raclea; 2 silver medals for Maria Velicu & Sabina-Giorgiana Firtala
  • Mathematics: 2 bronze medals for Andreea Dima and Mihnea-Gabriel Doica
  • Informatics: 2 gold medals for Darius Marian & Andrei Costin Oncescu; 1 silver medal for Vlad Mihai Rochian
  • Physics: 2 silver medals for Iulian Robert Răveanu & Mihai Ovidiu Popa

150 students from 6 Central and Eastern Europe competed at the XXII International Olympiad on Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Computer science “Tuymaada-2015”.

21 Romanian Communist Jokes

I’ve shared with you my story about how humor became a way of opposing the communism in Romania. My initial thought was that it will be a decent-size blog post, but words kept coming. Therefore, I decided continue writing and ended up with a second article, only this time I’ve translated you twenty one communist jokes. They reflect the reality of the Romanian people during the communist regime. In some cases, I tried to give you the context of that time, a very brief one.

The forbidden communist jokes

Communist jokes

There was no freedom of speech! To tell communist jokes, to speak about injustice, the party, Ceausescu and his wife, liberalism or any other sensitive topic could have sent you to prison, so you had to be sure with whom you shared your thoughts.

Have you noticed that at every petrol station there is now a doctor and a policeman on duty? The doctor gives the first aid to those who faint when they see the price, and the policeman interrogates the ones who fill up about where they got the money from. 

A patient is hospitalized at the Insane Asylum. ‘Why are you here?’, another patient asks. ‘I wanted to cross the Romanian boarder’, says the first. ‘But for something like this they do not send you to an asylum!’, replies the other. ‘Yes, but I wanted to escape to Soviet Union!’

A citizen said the chief of the Communist Party is an idiot. For saying this, the citizen was sentenced to spend 25 years and 3 months in prison. Everybody was wondering why 25 years and 3 months. In the end, they old find out the answer: 3 months for insulting a citizen of the Socialist Republic of Romania; 25 years for revealing a state secret.  

The comrades working in the Miliția (aka police) and Securitate (aka internal secret service) systems were doing their best to control what Romanians were thinking and they were empowered to do whatever it took to keep Ceausescu, the Communist Party and the Socialist Republic of Romania safe. They’ve spied, threatened, beaten, tortured and killed people.

What is the difference between the wind and Militia? Militia beats you stronger!

What does Securitate mean? The heart of the Party beating, beating, beating … 

Along with party activists, these forces helped Ceaușescu build the House of People, the second largest building in the world after Pentagon. Travelers from all parts of the world coming to Romania take their time to visit it. Some are amazed, some shocked, some cannot stand the kitsch. What they do not know is that hundreds, if not thousands of Romanians, died there, forced to work to death to make Ceaușescu’s dream come true … so no wonder…

What will the Palace of People be called when it is finished? A mausoleum

Bulă & the Party

It would a unpardonable sin to talk communist joke and not mention Bulă. Nobody knows exactly who created Bulă. What is sure is that he was born in communist Romania, so I’ll take the liberty of considering him one of the most authentic fictional characters produced by the creative force of the Romanian people. He spoke for us, he made us laugh… in a way he’s a popular hero.

At school the teachers asks Bulă: ‘What does your dad do?’ ‘He’s a member of the Party, comrade’, says the boy. ‘What about your mom, Bulă?’ ‘Ohhhh, she doesn’t work either! 

Bulă’s dilemma: Shall I die now of cold or shall I die of starvation in the summer? 

Bulă comes back from work earlier and he finds his wife in bed with Nae. ‘Are you nuts? You are fooling around while they sell butter at the food shop?’

The teacher asks Bulă: ‘Tell us one more time Bulă who’s you father?’ ‘Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu , says Bulă. ‘And your mother, Bulă?’  ‘Comrade Nicolae Ceaușescu’… ‘And what would you to be?’, asks the teacher. ‘An orphan!’  

How the communist system worked

For those who lived in Romanian during communism time, this system is very different from anything you could read in the some idealistic books. Some of the quotes show extremely well how people really felt about such an oppressing system:

Is communism a science? No, if it were a science, they would have tested it on animals first.

An old gypsy man on his dying bad. Instead of sending after the priest, he asks for the local chief of communist party. ‘I would like to join the Party’, says the dying man. ‘Why would you do this?’, asks the communist. ‘You lived your whole life free as the wind and now you want to join the Party?’. ‘Well, you see, if somebody has to die, I would be much happier if that guy were a communist’, answers back the dying man. 

Communist jokes & hunger

Meat was a rarity. In the shops most of the time you could find just some bad salami, chicken wings, pate or beans can. Oranges or bananas were the blessing arriving only in December and January and to get them you had to stay in line along with hundreds or other people.

What’s the difference between the current meat shop and the old one? Before (communism) on the rooftop it was written ‘Gogu’s Meat Shop’. Now, on the rooftop you can see “Meat’ Shop’, but inside you can only find Gogu. 

Which came first: the egg or the chicken? Before (communism) we had everything. 

Why is that in Romania shops are built five kilometers away apart? Otherwise, the lines would merge.  

Communist jokes & the cold

The hot water was not running at the tap all day long as you might think. Sleeping with in your pajama during winter was not enough to keep you warm, you had to put more clothes on you and blankets as the heat system also controlled.

A man is walking down the streets in Bucharest winter. He shouts into a flat: ‘Could you shut your windows; it’s freezing out here.’

Did you hear that since last spring living standards in Romania have doubled? Before we were cold and hungry – now we’re only hungry. 

The suffering had no limit and some Romanians lost their hope of a change for the better. It’s a fact painfully reflected by one of the joke I found:

‘Good day, old man! How are you?’, asks the young man. ‘  What else can I do, young man? I’m trying to survive…’ The young guy looks at the old man with a sad look and says: ‘You might be very sorry …’

Do you know why Romania will survive the end of the world? Because it is fifty years behind everyone else.

The wonders of communism

I can hardly imagine a better closing for this article on Romanian communist jokes other then quoting the sad humorous wonders of the oppressing regime:

Everybody had a place to work.

Although everybody had a place to work, nobody actually did.

Although nobody worked, the target was achieved over 100%.

Although the target was achieved over 100%, you could not buy anything.

Although you couldn’t find anything to buy, everybody had everything.

Although everybody had everything, everybody was stealing something.

Although everybody was stealing something, nothing was missing.

Opposing Communism with Humor

Let me tell you something very clear! Communism for those who actually experienced it is very different from the one you may read about in some articles or books. This story is about how humor was a way of opposing the communist regime. It’s written with the perspective of today’s adult, yet having in mind the memories of those days.

Opposing Communism with Humor

I was almost 15 years old when Ceausescu’s dictatorship ended. “Just a kid” some may think! True, but that kid did not forget either the suffering or the laughter. Today that kid has a true story to tell, so people will not forget.

During communism kids were expected to become responsible citizens and defenders of a communist system they couldn’t understand… A terrifying system that sent our grandfathers in prison and took them everything… the land, the houses, everything they ever owned; a system which sent them to the grave one way or they other; some lost their lives in prison or work camps because of the torture they had to go through; those who survived died on what you call “bad heart”.  They died because they remained true to themselves no matter what, for not giving up their principles, for not betraying their families or friends. They died for freedom. That was their way of opposing communism…. Yet, Romanians also found a different way of opposing the system. Humor was their weapon.

“Communism is the only political system to have created its own international brand of comedy.” Ben Lewis

Humor as an act of rebellion

Humor was a way of rebellion and survival at the same time; an escape of the mind and soul, a way of coping with all those absurd and restrictions imposed by a communist regime who did not care about its own people.

Opposing Communism with Humor

Humor was a way of standing up or fighting back, a form of active resistance against a criminal regime; at that time the political jokes served as a catalyzer of the constant state of discontent Romanians felt towards the things they did not agree or even hated… towards what was happening with our country.

It came with a price… in some cases, you could even go to jail, if the wrong person heard you saying a political joke. People went to prison. Their families had to endure all forms of oppression. Phones were tapped. People were constantly spied on.  Despite all these, political jokes were part of our daily lives. I remember I was hearing or telling them during the breaks in the courtyard of the school, although our parents had us promise not to share them publicly as it was dangerous. I also remember my dad covering the fixed line phone with pillows, so he and his friends can talk about the things you were not supposed to.

To anyone living in Western countries, enjoying a decent good life, learning about the so-called socialism from the books, such a joke may not make them laugh. If you are one of them, it would be difficult to image that hot water was scheduled. Hot water would ran on our taps few hours per week; sometimes, not at all. For those who lived it, it’s very different.

The informational oxygen

I once read that the nature of Ceausescu’s dictatorship forced Romanian society to create it own zone of informational oxygen. It still feels a correct and truthful insight of those days. Rumors and political jokes built that zone we so much needed it.  All these political jokes came anonymously and contemporaneously, from the mouth of ordinary people.

Communist jokes encompassed almost every aspect of our lives, from the queues of people waiting to get some milk, meat and bananas (only in December), to Ceausescu and his family, communists leaders, to all sorts of events.

As Ben Lewis so well pointed out,

“the rulers of Communism were wicked and they hated many things – the bourgeois, the liberals, imperialists, free elections, wealthy farmers and Capitalists, but there was one thing they hated more than anything else and that was Communist jokes”.    

Despite of the communist propaganda, secret control state agencies, these political jokes could not be controlled. They were told by ordinary people, whether drivers, professors or engineers, but what drove them nuts was that even Communist Party members or protégées of the regime told them. Just by telling them, they all kept the laughter going and the rebellion spirit alive.

“Slowly but surely the jokes eroded the strength of the leaders of Communism. Then, one day, people had enough of joke-telling and they rose-up against their cruel rulers. Then leaders quickly admitted the jokers had been right all along and Communism ended”. 

10 years & 950 Romanian communist jokes

In august 1979, Calin Bogdan Stefanescu, a former member of the Communist Party endowed with all the skills of a statistician, decided to keep a very personal kind of journal or better said an accurate inventory of the communist jokes Romanian were creating each day.  As Stefanescu later confessed, his initiative was driven by a strong and personal motivation: “I started  to perceive my collection of jokes as a way to justify myself in front of my children. I started to imagine my children asking me, ‘Dad, what did you do under Communism? Why didn’t you get out in the streets, why didn’t you do something?'”

Opposing Communism with Humor
Source: Calin Bogdan Stefanescu

After the fall of communism, Stefanescu published his collection of jokes in a book called “Ten Years of Black Humour in Romania.” What stands out it’s not the impressive number of jokes his collected, 950 to be very specific, but also the conclusions he reached by applying various complex statistical analysis:

  • a new joke was added to his collection every 4.71 days;
  • 81% of the joke-tellers were intellectuals, white-collar workers and bureaucrats;
  • only 7% of the pensioners and 13% of those under the age 30 were telling jokes;

Just like a meticulous archeologist taking down as many details as possible about the relics found on a site, Stefanescu calculated the velocity of a communist joke, making a clear connection between a social or political event and the number  of jokes appearing afterwards.

Opposing Communism with Humor

For Stefanescu, the quantity and and content of the jokes changed in significant ways as the Revolution (1989) approached; they became bitter and bitter. “What used to be grey was gradually becoming black”.

By calculating each year the number of jokes, theme, Stefanescu proved that jokes were not a form of avoiding the reality or a distraction from the struggle as communist supporters tried to suggest, but a real form of resistance and rebellion. As shown in the table below, as the forces of resistance gathered strength, the jokes increased in both terms of quantity and quality.

According to Lewis, in all communist countries where censorship and propaganda mechanism tried to control even what people thought, “a culture of the spoken joke would develop, a collective satirical work produced by the whole population”.

Conclusion on communism & humor

The state, the secret police and not even the various forms of oppression put upon Romanians could not stop them making jokes and laughing at the expense of communism. The system could not engineer how people laughed or what they laughed at. And I guess that type of attitude worked as well as for other communist countries.

If you would ask Romanians who actually lived here, for sure they would tell you that the best jokes they ever heard were during those bleak, sad and with nothing much to do outside work days. To see for yourself how that humor sounded like, I welcome you to read 21 Romanian Communist Jokes.

Romania — Fastest Broadband Download Speed in Europe

When it comes to Romania and Romanians, there are many things that can surprise you and broadband internet download speed is one of them. We are the fastest downloaders in Europe, and fourth globally.

With 69.62 Mbps, Ookla’s ranks Romania as the European capital with the fastest broadband download speed, and in fourth country in the world, after Singapore (116.06Mbps), Hong Kong (112.15 Mbps) and South Korea (73.12 Mbps).

Source: The Independent (UK)

2015 Ookla global ranking

This is Ookla’s 2015 top 50 country ranking looks like. See the 198 country listing, click here.

2014 ISP Hyperoptic Report

Fastest broadband download speed
Source: 2014 ISP Hyperoptic report

Last year the British fibre optic broadband ISP Hyperoptic published a new index published ranking European capital cities by broadband speed. With an average download speed of 81.2 Mbps, Bucharest tops this ranking, surpassing cities such as Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Vilnius, Stockholm or Warsaw. The ranking includes 33 European capitals, the European average download speed being of 38.6 Mbps.

Source: 2014 ISP Hyperoptic report

In 2014 ISP Hypeoptic report, London ranks 26th with an average of 26.29 Mbps, behind former eastern communist cities such as Budapest – 39.93 Mbps,  Sofia – 30.78 Mbps, Prague – 7.47 Mbps; or western capitals such as Berlin – 26.51 Mbps, Brussels – 28.51 mbps and Dublin – 33.36 Mbps.

The British promise

Back in 2012, Jeremy Hunt (Culture Secretary), in a speech at Google’s Campus in East London, promised to British citizens that UK would have the “fastest broadband of any major European country” by 2015, with access for 90 per cent of the country; the remaining 10 per cent would be able to access the internet at speeds of two megabits per second (Mbps) or above.

Broadband adoption strategy

Despite of all political and economical drawbacks, Romania played its broadband role well by adopting Romania adopting in 2007 its broadband national policy (The Regulatory Strategy for the Romanian Electronic Communications Sector for 2007-2010), ahead of countries such as Ireland (2008), Germany (2009), Poland (2010), France (2010), UK (2010), US (2010) or Sweden (2011)

In 2014, 49% (around 8.5 millions) of the Romanians had a smartphone with permanently connected to Internet.


With a highly-educated population speaking at least one foreign language, fast internet connections, several great technical universities, more and more technology companies investing in local development centers, financial support and encouraging legislation, IT&C sector does have a good chance of being the main growth driver for Romania.

Note on Bucovina: I should mention that Moldova (see first chart above), officially the Republic of Moldova, it’s the Romanian-speaking country located between Romania to its west and Ukraine to its north, east and south. In August 1939, the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and its secret additional protocol were signed, by which Nazi Germany recognised Basarabia as being within the Soviet sphere of influence, which led the latter to actively revive its claim to the region. The following year, namely on June 28, the Soviet Union, issued an ultimatum to Romania requesting the cession of Basarabia and northern Bucovina, with which Romania had to comply the following day. Soon after, the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (Moldavian SSR, MSSR) was established. To present day there are many voices on both sides of river Prut that divides the two territories asking for a reunion. 

Romania Ranks 1st at SEEMOUS

South Eastern European Mathematical Olympiad For University Students 2015 brought to Romania 20 medals thanks to the brilliant Math students from Bucharest, Iasi and Cluj.

Once again math students from three cities proved Romania has brilliant people! At SEEMOUS 2015, Romania came first in Nations’ Top. Congratulations to all winners:

  • Gold medal winners—Viorel-Andrei Bud, Teodor Rotaru, Anca Baltariga, Roxana Radu;
  • Silver media winners—Relu Dragan, Luigi-Ionut Catana, Vlad-Mihai Mihaly, Alexandru Jercaianu, Ciprian Baetu, George Pirtoaca, PaulBuboi, Andrei Vacariu;
  • Bronze medal winners—George-Rares Stan, Mircea Susca, Florin Cosmin Crihan,  Petre-Claudiu Mindrila, Vlad-Raul Constantinescu, Ioana Lal, Petru Cehan.

And all the other competitors from Romania—Marta-Diana Filimon, Ionut Iustin Iordache, Antonela Mariana Fecheta, Codrut Andrei Diaconu, Victor Robu, Vlad Suciu, Codrin Alexandru Lupascu, Dan-Constantin Hutanu and Ionut Vlad Modoranu.

Viorel Andrei Bud (Bucharest University) came first in the individual competition. Bud already has a great track record winning numerous medals in 2013 and 2014 at other international math competitions. Bucharest Polytechnics University also ranked first in University Top.

This is not the first time when Romanian math students win at SEEMOUS. At the seventh SEEMOUS edition which who took place in Blagoevgrad (Bulgaria), Romanian math students were ranked first.


The 9th South Eastern European Mathematical Olympiad for University Students (SEEMOUS 2015) took place in Ohrid, Former Yugoslavic Republic of Macedonia, in the period March 3 – 8, 2015. This competion brought together 91 students from 23 universities from Bulgaria, Greece, Iran, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia and Turkmenistan.

Romania was represented by 28 math students from five universities – Bucharest Polytechnic University, Bucharest Univesity, Technical University of Cluj Napoca,  “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” university (Iasi) and “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University (Iasi).

Winning with Math & Informatics

Despite of all educational, economical and political constraints Romania has faced in the past fifty years, math and informatics students from various universities across country competed and won hundreds of international awards.  Below we have only few achievements of the last years obtained by Romanian students:

  • In 2014 Romania was ranked 1st In Europe and 11th in the world at the International Mathematical Olympiad (Cape Town); all six students have won medals;
  • In March 2014, MIT enrolled Omer Cerrahoglu as one of its student; at just 19 years old, Omer already has 10 gold and silver international medals;
  • In 2012 Romania was ranked 1st in Europe and 10th in the world at the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO);
  • In 2010, some of the most well-known IT specialist in the world gave Ionut Budisteanu one of the 12 Turing Awards (San Francisco); some experts would say that’s like winning a Nobel prize for IT&C;
  • Romanian Ana Caraiani won the golden medal twice (2002, 2003) at International Mathematical Olympiad; she is the only woman in the world to have won twice Putnam Competion; she graduated Princeton with Suma Cum Laudae and took her Ph.D. at Harvard.

Such achievements are the best proof that determination and passion can conquer all kinds of obstacles.