Introduction: Travelling in Time
and Space on the Winds of the
Mihaela Kelemen and Monika Kostera
This is an unconventional book. Hence the way in which we start our introductory chapter. Here is Mihaela's story.
I was living in Romania when the country's communist system was overthrown in December 1989. I was in fact a full time student at Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest. In November that year, I somehow managed to catch hepatitis and was sent to recover to my parents' town, in Southern Transylvania. I was miles away from the epicentre of the revolt, tucked away in a small town where nothing really happened during that time. As I was not allowed to get out of bed (let alone the house), my only contact with what was going on in Bucharest and other big cities was through radio and television. I remember watching the news with a constant sense of bewilderment and thinking it was not real, it could not be real. There was fear, relief, hope and uneasiness in what I was seeing. It felt as if I was on the edge between dream and reality. One year later, I went to the UK to do a doctorate. A decade later I work and still live in the UK. Thus, my experience of the ups and downs of Romanian contemporary history are not embodied, but rather seen through the eyes of my relatives and friends, and well as through the lens of the people I interviewed and observed in my research. It is not an impressive story to tell and yet it has some fascinating undertones: it is a story about struggle and freedom, equality and inequality, fairness and unfairness, poverty and wealth, corruption and professionalism. Yet, the most fulfilling human projects are inseparable from a degree of torment and pain: we should not be embarrassed by such difficulties, only by the failure to grow anything beautiful from them.