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Posts Tagged ‘Eek the Cat’

It seems a long time ago since I was in Romania, but I have been thinking about it a great deal in the last few days as my book, The Mango Orchard has just been published in Romanian as Livada de Mango by the All Publishing Group. I love their design; it conjures an image of a world where time was marked by church clocks and all news, good and bad, would arrive via a man on horseback. Several people have commented that it looks like a cover of a Gabriel García Márquez novel, and believe me, I’m very happy with that comparison, but to me, there’s also something quite Romanian about it.

In the late 1990s, when I was working for Fox Kids, a children’s TV channel, I was visiting Romania every few weeks. Most of the time I was in Bucharest, in TV studios or press conferences, often accompanied by 7 foot tall purple and turquoise character costumes. It was my job to convince the Romanian public that watching cartoons with Romanian subtitles was somehow educational. I don’t think anyone really believed that the channel was in the least bit educational, but it became popular and I ended up visiting the country so often that I filled my passport with Romanian stamps and had to get a new one, and my colleagues started to call me Robinescu.

One of my brighter ideas was to embark on a children’s party roadshow, from Timisoara in the east to the Black Sea coast in the west. There were justifications for the expedition, having thousands of screaming children playing Blind Man’s Buff with Eek the Cat in town plazas across the land did no harm to our ratings, but I really organised the tour as I wanted to see the country. We crossed into the Carpathian Mountains into Transylvania, passed palaces and medieval towns and castles. I saw brown bears and walked in woods where wolves still roam. I saw achingly beautiful women with black hair and dark blue eyes. There were no motorways and the farming communities sold their wares beside the road – blood red tomatoes and peaches the size of melons. And yes, there were men on horseback.

My Romanian friends tell me that the country has changed beyond all recognition since I was last there in 2004. Bucharest is now a modern city in the vanguard of New Europe. I dreamt that I was back there the other night, and it had changed so  much that the only Bucharest landmark I recognised was the Intercontinental Hotel.

I hope that it hasn’t changed too much, and that somewhere up in the mountains, there are still men on horseback,  evoking memories of another time and another continent

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