Living Communism




When I was living in Bucharest, I remember once seeing a crowd of people outside the old communist bloc in which I was living. The building, while old and soviet, was not soviet in the sense that it was small and crowded, in fact it was very spacious and the apartments were quite beautiful. The apartment in which I lived had not been occupied since 1980 or something and was a true time capsule. The furniture was very 1970s, the prints of the couch and chairs, the black and white television set and the old radio on which I imagine people listened to communist news and radio Free Europe made the place better than any vintage photo. It was so amazing for me to walk in that place for the first time. The feeling of seeing a home just as it was in the 1970s or 80s was like discovering an ancient city in a cave.

Of course, the place was damaged, most things did not hold well, given that they were old, but they were still OK given that they had not been used in such a long time. Seeing the vintage furniture and vibe in 2013 brought back memories of the early 1990s, when we still had that kind of furniture.

I don’t want to get too involved in this thing, but the apartment really made me think about time traveling and how it might be like to actually enter a new era.

It’s hard to describe how the 70s feel like; I guess the best word I can find for it is “calming”.


At one point, I even understood what the crowd I mentioned earlier was doing there. One day, while I was letting fresh air come in, or at least as fresh as the air can get in Bucharest, I heard someone speak on a megaphone outside the building. I looked down and saw that it was actually a guided tour of the capital, which I found interesting and wanted to photograph. Because I had my Asus tablet handy, I took it out and pointed it out the window to take a picture. I didn’t think anyone would see me, which is why I wasn’t even wearing much – maybe some boxers. Anyway, when I pointed out the tablet, I heard the guide saying “And this is a communist bloc”.  Then, everybody turned around, saw me and basically posed for my picture.

I found it ridiculous that the bloc was on the sightseeing list of buildings to see in Bucharest. From the outside, there was nothing special about it, it was just a regular apartment building. What I found odd though was that the balconies were always empty: besides one or two apartments, nobody had anything on their balconies, no flowers, no furniture, no decorations. I guess it made sense to include it on the sightseeing list: it really looked as if nobody had touched it since the 1970s.


To be honest, even when I left the apartment, after which it was all renovated and modernized, I did not lose that feeling, I never got used to it as being part of the 21st century. I wonder if there are other places like this: untouched jewels of the past and windows to other decades.


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