• Roving thoughts. Illustrated. With cats.

    Roving thoughts. With cats.

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    I am looking though the window. Into a mostly Christian country, the first thing I see is a start-and-crescent on a mosque.

     

     

     

    Goldencrop

     

    My birth country can feed more than half of Europe.  But it’s food is almost all imported.

     

     

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    I was taken to a concert, in Moscow, with classical trained musicians, Irish and Scottish music arranged into a jazzy style, in a protestant church, with instruments including electric guitar and church organ.

     

     

    Grumpy-Cat-Funny-05

     

     

    Being surrounded by people, including ones you love, does not keeps you away from solitude. The other way around is also true, in the sense that solitude can not keep you away from … yourself.

     

    McDondurma

     

     

    À Berlin les McDonalds are owned mostly by the Turks. The one I entered had no cappuccino.

     

    Catpreying

     

     

     

    I am not too of a ‘church-person’, but I was raised in faith. Only I doubt God listens when I ask him to protect me from the closest people, the one I love, from which I am totally defenceless. He keeps protecting me from enemies, although those I learn to protect myself by not having them.

     

     

     

    IMG 1952Differentview

    Once, leaving London, where I got from Quebec, passing through Halifax and Glasgow, I was abandoned in Barcelona, where, even depressed,  I felt in love with a Spanish lady – and the city.  Very soon after, I meet the lady in Moscow, and I asked her hand. I was rejected.  After that, while on the ground in the Reed Square, trying to take a good shoot of Saint Basil Cathedral,  the perspective suddenly changed, well, radically I may say.

     

    Happy-catHapiness

     

    We strive to find happiness. Always in the wrong places. Until we finally become aware that happiness is not to be found, or win, but is a very simply way of life.

     

    Closefriends1

     

     

    On my right, an very old church, historic monument, abandoned, in a very bad shape. An announcement, looking for financial donations to restore it. At my left, an impressive Hindu temple, and a flow of people, well dressed, getting out from luxury cars, going to their Sunday religious gathering.

     

    Philosopher-cat

     

    If you invest 60% of what you have (money, feelings, faith) in into a business, or a person, or a belief, and you loose, you keep the 40% anyway.  But when you invest yourself at 200%, and you loose, you are left with what?

     

    Philosophical-cat

     

     

    There it is that statement into the dialectic philosophy: the goal of everything is the auto-annihilation. The skilled ones are advancing until reaching their incompetence level.  Perfect management is no need for anymore management. The war is made in the name and for reaching the peace. And when your life is helping others, when none left to help, drives your life meaningless.

     

    Politiciancat

     

     

    Politics is the safest road to success for the nulls. And they are helped by the non-action of the more intelligent ones. Therefore, the question: which are the real ‘values’ first ones or the second ones?

     

     

     

    Masterandslave

     

     

    There is that saying: we sleep as we layout out our bed.  My corollary: those that lays out only other people’s bed, will sleep on the floor.

     

     

     

     

    Well! Enough philosophy! Life is shallow!  / A little trouble / A little hope / and than .. good night!

    happy BDayRoute66

     

    Happy Birthday on the 66 road!


  • Armonia Choir Liturgical Concert, March 2010, Quebec

    By Dan Lazar Trifan


    English editor:  John D. Powell (Vermont, USA)


    Mister Marc Lepage, humanitarian, activist, and lecturer, offered a conference on March 21st, 2010 at the Basilica Notre-Dame de Quebec on Orphans in Romania; the conference can be viewed in the full version at  on the Catholic Church of Quebec web site ECDQ.TV .

    We witnessed an eloquent, honest speech about cultural differences, about personal amazement when facing so many contrasts that Lepage experienced while working with children in an orphanage in Romania.

    For an astonishing example, when children were promised a Sunday recess outside the orphanage Lerpage expected to see children in their day-clothes so that they could get dirty carefree-  as was familiar with parents ‘practices’ in Quebec. To his surprise, the children were dressed in beautiful clothes, a sign of appreciation, and that they had to honor the invitation,

    “The most beautiful,” LePage repeated, who saw in this gesture of the children a different system of values, a different perception of the person, of the event, where human relationship outweighs the “economic”. The lecturer, who worked for years in humanitarian missions, had many other examples like this.

    The host of the event was the father Denis Bélanger and The Choir Armonia of the Orthodox Mission of Saints Peter and Paul opened the conference with a concert of liturgical songs, old Romanian songs of Byzantine origin.

    I had the honor and satisfaction of being a member of this choir for the concert. We were a bunch of true “amateurs”, from which the skilled hand of Mrs. Alina Ganes-Ngo, choir director, achieved an outstanding performance in only a few months of practice. This is a bright example of what a talented master can do. It did not matter the musical talent, measure of mastery, or age ranges that made up the choir; when synergy is in place, one plus one can be more than two. In this case, our 7 + 1 produced an original choir and a memorable concert that conveyed great emotion to the public in attendance, in the beautiful, impressive Notre-Dame de Québec cathedral.

    On a personal note, when I was invited to rejoin the choir, I was struggling to get out of a dark, difficult, and painful period that changed everything, a real breakthrough in my life. I was convinced until that point that I was a man too strong to be defeated, even by the hardest and most painful life challenges. Then I learned that I have my own limits. When the most powerful of personal beliefs are destroyed, demolished, proven impractical from some point of view, it is difficult to find yourself again. It’s painful- heartbreaking- to “redefine” your inner self.

    The few months of musical practice for a few liturgical pieces gave me a first solid backup, a first “milestone” on my way back. And that, not by attention-shifting thoughts onto different topics, but the emotional construction of accepting the situation, the pain, and the defeat.

    Weird, right? “Emotional Construction” based on the words and tones of Byzantine liturgical songs? Or, rather, they were only the means, the channel, of communication with a specific state of mind, a certain deeper “presence” of our sub-consciousness. It comes back to Doina, in the interview (part three), and questioning if the music brings us closer to God? One answer might be sought in listening to the music that I describe here, in the tranquility of one of your late nights, alone or shared with a loved one, when you can abandon yourself, to be transported to another kind of perception of the spirit.

    Ultimately, as one of my sons says, “There is no love and hate; there is only love.”

    I wish you a pleasant listening to, you improbable, uncertain, and incognito visitor.


    Here’s a brief overview of the songs, thanks to Alina, who wrote a detailed presentation of each one:

    1. Cuvine-se cu adevărat – Hymn to the Mother of God

    Cuvine-se_icon

    The text of this song was used many times along the centuries to sing the glory of the Mother of God, by Orthodox Christians composers, particularly by Orthodox monks of Mount Athos. This song, whose second part is attributed to the Holy Roman “Le Mélode” (5th century A.D.), is one of the most important songs used in Orthodox liturgy. The melodic variant was composed by Ion Popescu-Pasarea (1871-1943, A.D), who was professor of Byzantine music at the Bucharest Theological Seminary:

    It is truly right to bless thee, O Mother of God, / thou the ever blessed, and most pure, and the Mother of our God. / Thou the more honorable than the cherubim, / and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim, / who without corruption gavest birth to God the Word, / thou the true Mother of God, we magnify thee.


    1. Iubite-voi Doamne – I will love you LordIubite-voi_icon

    The text of the liturgical melody is part of the 17th Psalm of David the Prophet, and is sung in the Orthodox liturgy before the Nicene Creed. In 1957, Nicolae Lungu composed the musical variant for choir from the old Byzantine traditional song.

    “I will love you Lord, my strength: The Lord is my firm support, and my refuge, and my deliverer.”


    1. Mărturisiți-vă Domnului – Praise the LordMarturisiti-va_icon

    The Psalms of the Prophet David come back again in the Byzantine melody Praise the Lord, more exactly, in Psalm 135. This Romanian song of Byzantine type uses only nine verses, most of which refer to the power of God in Creation.

    “0.1 Praise the Lord: he is good; his love is everlasting! / 02. Give thanks to the God of gods, his love is everlasting!”


    1. Heruvic the Sambata Mare – Hymn of the Cherubim from the Holy Saturday before Easter

    Heruvic_icon

    This “Cherubim’s Hymn” is sung especially in the liturgical service only on the morning of Holy Saturday before Easter. This Byzantine song originates from Mount Athos, though the composer is unknown. It describes the world petrified before the execution of Jesus Christ on the cross. Words are few in the chant; there’s not much place for words in such a painful moment. (During the concert, Alina’s voice, coming as if from another world, another realm, on a specific byzantine melodic line, penetrated emotional depths that we never suspected we had!)

    “That all that’s human body stand in silence, with fear and trembling, and nothing earthly within himself to not think, for the King of kings and Lord of lords is going to kill himself to be food to the faithful.”


    1. Tatăl nostru – Our Father who art in heaven

    Tatal_nostru_icon

    The last religious song is made of The Lord’s Prayer, which is the most famous in the Christian religion. It is recited by Orthodox and Catholics at every Mass, by Lutherans and Reformed Protestants to worship each cult.

     “Our Father which art in heaven, / Hallowed be thy name. / Thy kingdom come. / Thy will be done in earth, / as it is in heaven. / Give us this day our daily bread. / And forgive us our trespasses, / as we forgive those / who trespass against us. / And lead us not into temptation, / but deliver us from evil: / For thine is the kingdom, / and the power, and the glory, / forever and ever. / Amen.”


    A few words about the Romanian community in Quebec City, and its choir.

    The Armonia Choir was born in October, 2005 within the Romanian Orthodox Mission “Holy Apostles Peter and Paul” in Quebec City. The choir’s repertoire consists of religious songs, Christmas carols and Easter songs, songs of Romanian and international choir repertoire, and Romanian folklore. In the pure Romanian tradition during the Christmas season, the choir visits the Romanians in the Quebec City region to sing their carols.

    The Romanian community in the Quebec City region is stronger by about 1,000 people. The first wave of Romanian immigration in the region occurred in the 1980s and the second in mid-1990, after the fall of Communism in 1989. It continues peacefully during the 2000s. The Romanians from Quebec are organized around two very active organizations, the Orthodox Mission “Apostles Saints Peter and Paul” (created in 2001) and the laic organization CRQ-Romanian Community of Quebec (established in 2003, see www.roquebec.com ).

    The Community has its own Orthodox church (see www.petrusipavel.org )



  • About the longing / Despre dor (1/3)

      By Dan Lazar Trifan


    English translation: Dan Lazar Trifan

    English editors: Nancy Meshkoff (Vermont, USA) and John D. Powell (Vermont, USA)


    Interview published in the book “At the roots, at origins … Talks at Subcetate” by Doina Dobreanu and Vasile Dobreanu, Publisher: Cezara Codruţa Marica, 2014

    Romanian title: Dan-Lazăr Trifan –Despre Dor (Dor: Romanian word for longing, yearning)


    Doina Dobreanu: Dănuţ Trifan, I’m so glad to see you each time we meet again in Subcetate. Thank you for agreeing to this online talk. So many years have passed since you left home. Your first step was going to High school in Târgu-Mureş in 1966. Let’s look at life in your family home beside Călnaci Stream in Subcetate, when you had a childhood full of freedom and unlimited dreams. Who were your parents? Who sent you out into life with a specific genetic endowment and education?

    Dan with his village
    Dan with his village

    Dan-Lazăr Trifan: Before answering, I want to thank you for the honour of being placed in the company of the many impressive people in Talks at Subcetate. I never knew how much Subcetate has contributed to the world until I saw the range of personalities in your book. I admire them all, although I know only a few, and I feel privileged to offer my own modest contribution to it. I also want to confess that I cheated a bit because I had other members of my family look at my responses and verify some of the information.

    My father was Gheorghe Trifan, called “George Covaciu”, from the Hungarian word kovács, meaning “blacksmith”. My mother was Viorica Trifan, born Dobreanu, a family name that comes from the Slavic root dobre, meaning “good”. Talking about them is something very special, simple and pleasant on the one hand, but extremely difficult on the other hand. Why?  Because I have a whole universe of memories. Nothing could be more rewarding than talking about these two wonderful people, but it’s also difficult because, for us, they were the creators of an entire world, our childhood universe.

    It was, of course, a universe contained within Subcetate’s universe, but for the Trifans it was something special, something particular. By “the Trifans” I mean the family created by the union of a Dobreanu and a Trifan. The Trifans’ universe was a space they created by nothing else but by what they were, by what they represented for us, by what they did for us, and especially by how they did it. It was a mixture of conformity and nonconformity, respect for tradition and breaking traditions: the simple peasant life and the life of craftsmen, given that my father was a blacksmith and my mother had a passion for weaving. For us kids, it was a mixture of strict discipline and a freedom that other children didn’t have or couldn’t afford.

    Gheorghe Trifan 1976
    Gheorghe Trifan 1976

    My father, Gheorghe, was born in 1909 in the village of Dămuc, Bicaz County, to a family of peasants, shepherds, and raftsmen (log driver). He ran away from home at age 16, to learn to be a blacksmith, breaking family tradition to create his own path. He opened his smithy in Subcetate, across the mountains from where he was born.

    My father went through the First World War as a child refugee, and through the Second as a Romanian soldier fighting for the Germans. The 1940 Trianon Treaty had made almost half of Transylvania, (including Subcetate), part of Hungary, a German ally, and my father was forcibly recruited into Miklos Horthy’s Hungarian army. (In 1944, Michael of Romania’s coup d’état brought the Romanians to the side of the Allies.)

    Since he served with a unit of mechanics behind the frontline, it was difficult for him to get far enough to the front to cross over to the Romanian army. While attempting it, he was taken prisoner by the Russians. But he was lucky to have two things that allowed him, and many of his brothers-in-arms, to avoid the Soviet gulag: his Romanian citizenship and his exceptional mother in-law, Ioana Dobreanu.

    My grandmother, Ioana, had been given a letter that had been smuggled out of the prison camp, and she walked—actually walked! —180

    Manual drill machine in my father workshop
    Manual drill machine in my father workshop

    kilometers from Subcetate to Brasov. There, stubborn and determined, she alerted the Romanian authorities to the presence of Romanians in the Soviet prison camp. So they were liberated, and avoided the Siberian gulag, where so many others who were less fortunate endured inhuman treatment or died.

    So he escaped hardship in the gulag, only to be labeled by the communists as a kulak, (that is, a better-off peasant whom they considered to be an enemy of poor peasants), because of his threshing machine, tractor, and smithy.

    And that thresher, which worked up and down the Mureş River’s villages every autumn, bringing in the grain harvest for many farms—where had it come from? He had built it himself, in the winter of 1945, while in a wheelchair, sick with jaundice, after his months in the Soviet prison camp in Brasov.

    So that the kulak designation would not affect his children’s future, he decided to leave his family for two years, living alone and isolated in the mountains.

    In the late fifties, he abandoned his smithy and got himself hired as a maintenance mechanic at the sawmill in Hodoşa and joined the millworkers’ union. But the kulak taint remained, and his two older children, Ilie and Radu, were stigmatized by this false and abusive designation.

    My mother, Viorica, was born in 1920, the oldest of five sisters and a brother. Her parents were Ioan Dobreanu, the village furrier, and Ioana Rus Dobreanu. The other villagers gathered at their home in the evenings, when my grandpa would read them the newspapers and discuss politics. The Dobreanu branch of the family, to which you and I belong, are descendants of the founder of Subcetate. I know you studied the history of our village and published a book on it.

    Viorica Trifan at her loom, 1977
    Viorica Trifan at her loom, 1977

    Now, when I talk about my mother, I can’t help getting emotional. I can’t be anything but emotional when talking about her.  I have never seen her sad, never seen her nervous, never seen her lose her temper. I’ve seen her concerned, yes, but she usually wore a discreet and enigmatic smile, knowing and understanding everything, even before it happened, crossing over difficulties and hard times as if they didn’t exist. A little handful of a woman, petite and slender, yet able to move mountains or to bend a harsh, proud, stubborn man like my father. Incredible how much power lay in such a fragile woman, married at only 16 years old, while still a child, who brought up six, fine children herself.

    There was something mysterious in her being, something supernatural—divine, I’d say. Her inner power could come only from love and faith. Love of family and children, of her vocations as a peasant, a weaver, a florist; and love of life. And faith, a devoted faith, intrinsic, intimate, felt rather than spoken, lived rather than just practiced.

    Churchgoing didn’t define her faith, or my father’s. Faith was in their entire way of acting, thinking, and behaving. Their evening prayer was an act of mystery; holy, constant, intimate. My mother’s faith was her way of life, was her life itself. My father’s, too. They raised their children in that faith, but at the same time they gave them the liberty (and the responsibility) to choose; they helped them to build their own beliefs and faith, exercise their own freedom of conscience.

    They were people with passions, both of them. My dad loved his work and lived for and by it. He was an inventor, holding patents on innovations and inventions, and he could work materials, especially iron and steel, like an artist. Whatever his hand touched was under his control. He dominated them, the things. They listened to him, whether it was iron, wood, a tractor, a thresher, a plough, saws, nails, or screws. He was a blacksmith and loved iron things. He collected them, gathered them from wherever he found them, even from the road or from the mud.

    He didn’t speak much, but he always had “a word”. Now, this- “a word”- needs to be explained. He once told me that “a man has to have a word.”  And it took me a long time to understand what he meant. Later, in college, following the mathematical proofs of theorems, I often came across the saying, “necessary and sufficient”, and at some point I made ​​the connection: I understood that a man, (or a woman), has to have a word, an opinion, a position on any matter—but one word, not two, not three- One- To be consistent and true to himself. It’s a life philosophy that makes a person someone you can work with and count on. The world in which I live now calls such a person “reliable”.

    My mother’s passions? They were gardening, flowers, and sewing, weaving on a loom my father made for her, harvesting vegetables and other crops from our farmland.

    She was a born artist with an extraordinary perception of colors and shapes. In love with them. Carpets adorned her house. She sewed the

    Viorica Trifan carpet
    Viorica Trifan carpet

    traditional shirts we wear on holidays. She left to each one of us a kind of legacy. I carry with me some pieces she made ​​especially for me. I’ve shown them at exhibitions, for the Romanian culture days we organized in Quebec in previous years. When people expressed their admiration and took pictures of them, I thought about what she would have said.

    “Well, Dănuţ, those people, do they really like my work? They took a lot of pictures …”

    DD: Your brother George said, about your mother: “We six children began our lives crawling around our mother’s loom, and we first stood on our feet by pulling ourselves up on her loom. We mold ourselves after the people, things, and places we grow up around; and we are never able to detach ourselves from them!”

    DLT: One night, some school children took flowers from her garden. When she saw what they’d done, she cried because several others had been stepped on and destroyed. She went to the school and complained to the teachers, not because the children had taken the flowers, but because they’d trampled others. “They only had to ask me, and I would gladly have given them the flowers they wanted.” A saying that defined her thinking, her way of looking at life, was: “Why always put the bad up front, when the good fits in anywhere?”

    I’ve left for the end one of the greatest passions of both my parents, something very important to us children: their great thirst for knowledge, the avidity with which they read, watched the news, read the newspapers, listened to the radio, and followed our learning. They learned with us. We learned from them, and they learned with us.

    I’ll stop here, because otherwise you won’t have enough pages left in your book for anyone else. This is the difficulty I was talking about: nothing I say about them will ever be enough. They are a world, the space in which we lived, a universe beyond time and space, beyond our lives. It’s been a long time since they passed over to the other world, to nonexistence, but the space and the world they created still exists and will exist forever in my heart. If I ever have the time to write, I will dedicate a book to them—one to each of them, and another one to both of them together.

    DD: Touching words about your parents!

    Gheorghe and Viorica, 1036
    Gheorghe and Viorica, 1936

    Thanks to your brother George, I have a photo from your parents’ wedding and got to hear his thoughts about it: “You can read their history in this picture. My mother was 16, my father 27. My mother accused her parents of cutting her girlhood short. My father left his village and the family home after a big disappointment. The two of them lived together for 52 years and had six children. They were like two sharp, solid rocks, bound together very strongly by their children. My mother always kept her purity of mind and spirit. No judgments were needed, no rational analysis or synthesis. She based her behaviour and her attitudes on what she felt. She was a lover of flowers, of pets, and, most of all, of children. Both of them respected and took responsibility for truth, dignity, and honesty. Each provided their children with the ability to earn a living through their work. In describing them, you’d have to talk about old values that are acquired only through hard work and a lot of patience … and so much more!”

    What did it mean to you to grow up in a traditional Romanian village, in the Subcetate of the fifties and sixties? What did it meant to live in a beautiful family with loving parents, worthy people, willing to sacrifice, passing on to their kids, by means of their own example, things like kindness, respect for work, an ethical and moral code in the spirit of their tradition, as well as a love for learning?

    DLT: Perceived through the eyes of Dănuţ, born on August 1, 1951, the fifties and sixties are one world. But the perception of the one who went through those years and the years beyond, the Dan Lazăr Trifan you are interviewing now, tends to alter Dănuţ’s perception, because he sees a different world. That’s normal, right? Life experience alters our perceptions. The child’s existential and cognitive interior provides one perspective. From where I stand today, with the experiences and accumulations of a lifetime from different places, continents, and cultures, I frame the childhood space in a larger context, contained within the whole, and my perception changes accordingly.

    When I first felt this tendency to amend my original perception of my childhood world, I did not like it. I felt that by adding to and completing memories through rational understanding we actually lose something important, something essential to Dănuţ’s perception. He, the kid, still exists, he’s part of me, of my children, of all children in Subcetate then and now. So for the kid back there in time, for the kids of today and tomorrow, the original perceptions must be kept intact, unaltered, unchanged. Above all, they must be passed on. It’s a real challenge, keeping the feeling of this lost world even as memories or emotions, isn’t it? “I do not crush the world’s corolla of wonder and I do not kill mysteries,” wrote Lucian Blaga in 1919 in his Poems of Light. Too much rationality and the ransacking of memories and events for causes and explanations are useless here. The authentic reliving of these memories in all their emotional force is sufficient.

    So, what did it mean to grow up in the Subcetate of the fifties and sixties?

    It meant having the great luck to be born and grow up in an oasis of stability in emotional, social, moral, cultural, and religious terms. This stability alone can give the future adult self-confidence and form him as a balanced person strongly anchored into a well-defined way of life. Even if things change later on, he starts life with a solid reference point, a benchmark. For example, family life- working with parents, the complexity of life in the countryside, where tasks are extremely diverse- give children raised in the country many more skills and habits than children raised in the city. A child growing up in a big city, hemmed in by buildings, amid the noise of cars and pollution of all kinds, beset by too much information and too many too-rapid changes, does not always perceive the essence of the human being. The soul does not learn contemplation and the mind does not acquire introspective ability, does not have time to acquire depth in feeling and thinking.

    I do not pretend to have the absolute truth about this. Factors such as parents, the social microclimate, school, or luck can totally change things. It’s more like a personal statistical observation.

    Just to illustrate what life in Subcetate was like for Dănuţ, it gave him the chance to read almost all the books in two libraries, the school’s and the municipality’s, without discrimination or selection. Was that good? Was it bad?

    He also had the chance to experience more serious or more playful projects, which some might call crazy, silly experiences. Now, here I should really tell you about a few!

    By fifth or sixth grade, I was fascinated by aviation and subscribed to a science and technology review. I designed a glider and, to my surprise, my father, who was usually very thrifty, even stingy, agreed to give me the necessary materials. I worked all fall and all winter, in the house, in the big room at the downstream end of our house by the water, a room that was not entirely finished. By spring, I had finished my glider. Surprisingly, my dad came regularly to ask me how my work was going and to check my technical solutions, and for some reason he always had a slight smile under his moustache. So I finished the fuselage and installed the wings, waiting for the snow to melt so I could try it out by rolling it off the top of the very steep northern edge of the stream and landing in the big field on the other side. When I went to move it out of the house, I realized that the wings were so long that it would not pass through the door. My father—who of course was present—asked me very seriously, “Now, Dănuţ, do you mean to demolish the wall to get it out?” You could see he could hardly keep from laughing uproariously. Of course, he forbade me to try out my glider as well!

    When I was five or six years old, my father began to take me with him during the threshing season, to villages from Răstoliţa to Deda or Dumbrava. I still have very vivid memories of life in the countryside during the harvest period, with the fragrant orchards, the barns filled with sacks of freshly-threshed grain from my father’s thresher, with people working from dawn to dusk, without rest but with pleasure and passion. I liked the villages so much—sinewy, hard-working men, the beautiful women, and the children… and the young girls, hmm! One year, when I returned, I told my mother that when I grew up I would take seven wives, one from each of the villages we went to. This story made the ​​rounds of the village for a while; it is part of my history now. It is true that, later on, when I was a teenager, I stopped once in Dumbrava to see if I could track down one of the seven I’d had in mind—a brunette with long hair and bright, black eyes like two coals, sweet as a ripe plum and as full of life as a fountain of fresh, cold water.

    Then there were my celluloid rocket experiments. One of the rockets I built, rather than shooting upwards, went off in another direction, entering the smithy through a small hole in a window and shooting right past my father’s ear. Another one I installed on a small boat. When I tried it in the stream behind the house, it exploded, and a policeman came to investigate who was shooting off illegal firearms.

    Or maybe I should talk about the opportunity I had when one of our teachers took me and a colleague to spend two months in the high school’s physics and chemistry laboratories, checking and operating all the devices and learning how they worked.

    Or how lucky I was to have a math teacher so interested in his students that, after hours, without being paid, he guided us in solving mathematical problems for the nationalMathematical Gazette, and helped us gain the title the magazine gave to its best and most frequent contributors: “Permanent math problem solvers”.

    The Trifans, 1972
    The Trifans, 1972

    All this shows how fortunate we were to have a school in the village with wonderful teachers. They were able to organize a long trip across half the country, for almost all of the students, turning two passenger cars into dormitories with canteens, where we had everything we needed. At train stations, the cars were left on sidings while the teachers took us to visit factories, museums, schools, and historical places. We learned the country we were living in. I was in third grade, I think.

    DD: I remember that trip with pleasure. I was there, too.

    DLT: Life in Subcetate also meant living with my sister and brothers: Ilie (Romanian for Elijah), the oldest, the eternal adventurer, a fine intellectual and an exceptional craftsman and mechanic, with golden hands, I would say. He was my mentor in life for a period of time; Radu, a stationmaster and railway transport worker, a conquering, handsome man, always in a good mood, inspiring confidence; Doina, a French and Spanish teacher with a passion for languages, attentive, generous but extremely demanding; Ghiţă, another enthusiast, a mechanical engineer, an engineer by definition, let’s say, but idealistic and bohemian in good measure; and Emil, also an engineer, a geological engineer, but with many other talents—music, painting, photography— “bourré de talents”, as a Frenchman would say. I have enough stories for several volumes for each one of them.



  • About the longing / Despre dor (2/3)

      By Dan Lazar Trifan


    English translation: Dan Lazar Trifan

    English editors: Nancy Meshkoff (Vermont, USA) and John D. Powell (Vermont, USA)


    Interview published in the book “At the roots, at origins … Talks at Subcetate” by Doina Dobreanu and Vasile Dobreanu, Publisher: Cezara Codruţa Marica, 2014

    Romanian title: Dan-Lazăr Trifan –Despre Dor (Dor: Romanian word for longing, yearning)


    DD: How did you pass the various seasons in Subcetate?

    DLT: Hmm… Seasons! Vivaldi, in a previous life, was certainly Romanian and was raised in Subcetate- it’s a personal belief of mine. But let’s keep it just between us, so that the world doesn’t laugh at us…

    Spring always starts, at school and at home, with the story of the “Mărţișor” (pro. Mârtzishor), the red and white string to which a small decoration is tied, worn by people on the first of March, to bring strength and health during the year. That’s the Allegro, Largo, and Danza

    1'st of March
    1’st of March

    Pastorale in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  Snow began to melt, the small stream behind the house grew, sometimes reaching into the yard and garden, and we walked barefoot through water and mud that were still cold.

    A true story: One spring, the stream that ran behind the house flooded our courtyard and garden up to the knee, and entered the house. Grandfather and grandmother, who lived on the hill, came down through the water to get us out. Grandmother, with her long dress rolled up, entered the house, took the pot of cabbage rolls from the stove, and left. Grandfather shouted after her, “What about the children, Ioana?” to which she replied, “Children have to eat, Ioane!”

    Later, I remember walking with the other boys and girls in the meadows, picking snowdrops on the other side of the Mureş River, where they first appeared.  By April or May, when everything started to turn green again, when the ground was steaming, breathing, waiting for the plows, the farmers’ plows were repaired and sharpened in my father’s yard, and when they were ready, they were lined up neatly by the fence of the little garden. On sunny Sundays in May, when the apple and cherry trees were blooming, we were out in the fields playing tzurca, a traditional game using a bat and a ball, something like baseball.

    I remember going out to plow, on the surrounding hills, for the villagers, with the tractor and the plow my father had built. Hard work, but I enjoyed it. Sunday mornings, when it was quiet and the villagers dressed in their Sunday clothes headed to church, I remember my father reading the newspaper at the kitchen table, and my mother sharing stories with us, rambling on about everything.

    In the summer, we had a little bit of school and then the summer holidays. Vivaldi’s three movements include Allegro non molto, Adagio e piano–Presto e forte, and Presto.

    Children’s holidays were different then, generally made up of working in the fields, in the garden, and around the house, helping their parents. The lucky ones (like us!) could go to a summer camp, somewhere in the mountains or by the sea, for one or two weeks. Later, when I grew up, summer meant working in the sawmill in Hodoşa, to earn some money for clothes. It never seemed difficult; this way of life was normal, accepted because there wasn’t any other. I was pleased with myself and with it.

    July was intense heat beating down on the fields; (I hear the Presto e forte now!), and the rainfall of St. Ilie (Elijah), who makes corn grow and ripen.

    I once heard a story about St. Ilie. He kept asking God to provide rain, lightning, and thunder for his feast day. God kept saying, “Well, wait. Not yet. You still have to wait…” Then one day God said, “But your day has passed.” After this, to make sure, St. Elijah provided rain both before and after his feast day!

    Scytheman
    Scytheman

    After July came August, and a favourite event of mine: all of us, or nearly all of us, going to fields near the Gălăuţaş Forest, to make hay, in the Dobreni garden. A week of life in the wild, in nature, with demanding work, but enjoyable. My trouble was in trying to sharpen a scythe that never cut properly. When a scythe does not cut, you pull till your muscles nearly burst! Finally, one year I had a large, wide scythe that cut like a razor. It’s a feeling beyond description—in the early morning, with the dew on the grass, advancing in line, step by step, furrow to furrow, one after the other, brothers and father, cutting grass without a word, silently, as if performing an ancestral ritual learned somewhere, somehow, leaving behind long rows of heavy furrows and grass with a fresh and beautiful scent. The sound of the sharpening of the scythes, the song of grass falling to the scythes, interrupted by breaks for a solo of the whetstone passing gently over the edge of the scythe, grasshoppers leaping in the grass. Bringing the hay home after a few days, in the big, full, heavy wagon pulled by our tractor, usually towards evening, on country roads full of rocks, potholes, and other obstacles. But it was worth the effort, in the evening, after everything was finished, after a dip in the cool water of the creek behind the house and dinner prepared by my mother, to have the sense of a job well done, finished, feeling fulfilled, pleased with ourselves and with what we’d done.

    Autumn—Allegro, Adagio molto, and Allegro again, but with a different message—when I was still in school, and even after starting school for a while, during the threshing of the grain. I remember going around to different villages with my father during the harvest, after the grain had dried and was ready to be threshed, and how he gradually assigned me to different tasks. It would be too much to tell here, all the impressions and some funny and beautiful stories with the two handsome men, my father and Ilie.

    Threshing campaign
    Threshing campaign

    For some time, however, after collectivization, it was not so nice. Wealth became poverty, courtesy became indifference and bitterness. We’d once been received, hosted, nourished like special people, but after that we got to sleep in the stables, until my father gave up the business. Subcetate escaped collectivization, due both to the opposition of its people and to its hilly topography, which had few large areas for farming.

    I remember not only the work in the fields and the harvest, but going through empty fields afterwards, when we children took the cows to graze, without restrictions as to where or when or on whose land.

    Towards the beginning of winter, I had a period of another type of work with my father, splitting logs for the villagers with a mechanical circular saw he built, making firewood or lumber, moving the heavy logs people had brought from the forest at the end of the preceding winter by hitching them to horses and sliding them along the snow. Allegro, Adagio Allegro molto—these tempos perfectly describe serene and festive December and the calm, white tranquility of January and February’s harsh cold.

    Winter holidays? They’re like stories from fairy tales—tales that we lived. Christmas, the beautifully decorated Christmas tree; carols with the voices of children sounding so beautifully in the crystalline winter sky, breaking the silence of the night here and there; cakes, my mother’s cakes, stuffed cabbage rolls, the traditional Christmas pork specialities. It was the time of year when we were most often able to gather all together at home, to our stoic mother and father’s disguised (but eventually obvious) contentment. A holiday of joy, reunion, the refreshment of the mind. Over the years, however, we lived in more distant places, and we were less and less often able to enjoy being all together for Christmas or New Year’s Eve in our parents’ home.

    Winter brought heavy snow in the fifties and sixties. White winters, with tranquility falling on the village. Activities in the countryside are less intense in winter—skiing, going out with friends over the hills and forests, having all sorts of adventures, ending up with broken bones or injuries, or going out skating with skates we’d made. We improvised, and it created unforgettable memories. It was a season for reflection, I would say. Our village was set in a bowl among the hills, which blocked the wind and made it much easier to bear lower temperatures. My parents bought me my first overcoat for my first year in high school, in Târgu Mureş. Until then, in the winter I’d worn a thick wool sweater, hat, gloves, and winter boots.

    DD: Childhood spaces and feelings of home… Do they make you nostalgic?

    DLT: Nostalgic? Sometimes, yes, when my preoccupations lift and I have the time for my thoughts to wander free. During long trips, for example. Then, yes, I miss that sense of being “at home,” a place that in fact does not exist anymore, but of which we carry a bit, wherever we are and whatever we become. At other times, life, in its difficulty and continuous passing, faces us with different realities and the truth that the past cannot ever be relived. Everything changes. Everything has changed today—places, people, and habits. What remains is the spiritual heritage, the one that helps us find our inner selves, anywhere, anytime. If we keep this feeling of being “at home” in our minds and souls, we feel at home anywhere in the world, on any shore. We integrate our past into our day-to-day present, into our everyday achievements. We hurt when people we cherish are no longer with us.

    Yes, I miss seeing my mom weaving at her loom or coming down the street with her hands folded under her embroidered sheepskin vest, as I’ve known her to do for a lifetime. I miss listening to my dad telling the story of when he defected from the German army, stories from the war, or working with him in the smithy.

    Nostalgia? Yes, I do have it. During the long winters in Quebec, when I’m tired of shovelling the snow blocking the windows so that I can have light in the house, or on the plane to Kigali, or during my long waits in airports in Nairobi or Paris—yes, I feel nostalgia. It sweetens some moments. I’m lucky to have it.

    DD: And your life path or “existential track”?

    DLT: That’s an interesting term you use. On a track, on a route, a person passes through a succession of distinct points. Yes, I move in space, but in time… I feel, rather, that time passes over me, and that my time walking is continuous, not in a series of discrete moments, not composed of points. Time goes through me, and I try to brake, to slow it down, and to make the most of every second that passes through me, to savour it, to feel its color, taste, trends, and effect, to delay the death of every second, to postpone its disappearance. Hmm… Too much philosophy, right?

    Danutz in the 60s
    Danutz in the 60s

    Okay, let’s start at the beginning, which of course can only be in Subcetate. I have many memories, but let’s start with the institutional life of the kid named Dănuţ when he had an excellent start in kindergarten, but kindergarten ended for him on the first day. Life outside it was more interesting. Then school, where I was late for the first day. I was late and couldn’t find any place except in the back of the classroom, and of course I fell in love with the beautiful Elena. (That will be our secret, okay? No one knows about it, not even Elena!)

    I recently learned of something I did the summer before I started school, when the building was under construction. (The fact that we were getting a new school was thanks to the irreplaceable Professor Andrei Cotfas, who tricked the Communist authorities and obtained funds to build the high school by pretending that our small village was actually another, larger one with the same name.) I gathered stones from the road, put them in my pockets, and carried them onto the construction site, where I told the workers to hurry and finish building the school because soon, in the fall, I was supposed to start first grade.

    The school had teachers and professors with big hearts and great human qualities! I was usually among the best students in school, (even the first in my class), except for the years when my grades were lowered for misbehaviour.

    I followed with high school in Târgu Mureş, taking advantage of the re-establishment of industrial high schools, living with my aunts and later with my brother, Ilie, or, in the last year, in the high school campus. The change from village life to city life had its events, even shocks, which have strongly marked me. Adapting to city life came at a price, and I paid dearly, but, as they say, what does not kill us strengthens us. I was among the best students here as well (with the same exceptions for misbehaviour), and I studied all subjects with pleasure and in depth, from industrial classes to literature. This propelled me to contests in mathematics, physics, Romanian literature, or activities like ham radio operation, “orienteering sport”, gymnastics, and judo. So as not to burden my parents too much with the expenses for my studies, I tutored younger students or worked with my brother Ilie repairing cars. Ilie deserves a special book, a whole novel, but there’s not enough time in this interview for all the stories I could tell!

    At the end of high school, after years in which I saw my future in industry, aviation, and electronic engineering, I decided to change course. I chose astronomy and applied for admission to the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Bucharest. But astronomy ran away from me. Each year, it was moved to the next year of study, but I caught it in the final year, just for a trimester. In the meantime, I chose computer sciences, advanced study in theoretical mechanics and magneto-hydrodynamics, ending with cutting-edge research in the theory of shock waves in plasma. But it seemed that the fate of the students of my generation had already been decided. One of my teachers, Mr. Ioan Roșca, a famous mathematician and a former classmate of Doina (my sister) in Subcetate, told us at one point, “All of you will be swallowed up by computer science!”

    And so it was. I ended up at a factory called Electronica, a manufacturer of television sets, in the computer department, where my path took me from programmer to systems engineer, to team manager, and by the end, to head of the computer department.

    I forgot to say that, in my last year at university I married a Bucharest girl, Virgilia. We were colleagues. She is a math teacher, passionate about mathematics and especially passionate about teaching kids. Virgilia is the mother of my three children, Mircea, Alexandru and Ileana, who are the major achievements of our life.

    In thinking about the future, I meant to avoid certain things. I would not live in a big city, would not become the head of anything, would not live on an apartment block, would not work in industry, and would stay away from Bucharest girls. Well, it was completely futile. I did the opposite of all of them! I lived in Bucharest for 28 years, I wasthe boss in most of my positions, we bought an apartment in a 10-story building, I worked in industry for 24 years, and I fell in love with a Bucharest girl. Perhaps it was meant to be. Perhaps your destiny is already written, marked on your forehead!

    I had the luck of having three very special children, talented, hardworking, and intelligent. As for my profession, I had the luck to be among those chosen to lead major projects on a national scale— pioneering, I’d say.

    The first personal computer for the general public in Romania, for example, was put into production by a team I led, where my contribution was a major one, getting all the official approvals, passing through all the Communist filters, and doing the paperwork. We had to call it not a computer but, ridiculously, a “programmable device for assisted learning” because the Communist authorities did not allow ordinary citizens to have such a thing as a “computer” at home.

    I led two large information system projects, pilot projects in real-time production management, when they premiered in Romania: A German-inspired one and another designed in Romania, both implemented at the Electronica plant where I was working.

    The 1989 “revolution” (in quotes, of course!) found me on the frontlines, one of those naïve people who believed that something could change from one day to another. The events pushed me into a leadership position again. I was the one who had to do some backstage organizing for some major changes at the plant where I worked. We changed some things, we forced changes, but I realized after a while that all we’d done was to cut off the top of the iceberg. Everyone in the “Communist mafia” pyramid just moved up a level and everything was left in place. (We should call it an octopus, not a pyramid.)

    Later on, with a few collaborators, I established WDS Software House, one of the first computer firms in Bucharest. In less than a year, we built an information system for a hospital, one of the first systems on a PC network in Romania. There followed years of hard work, intensive development, business trips to customers across the country, to Constanta, Brăila, Tulcea, Galaţi, Bacău, Baia Mare, Turnu Severin, and Craiova, and then I formed a second company, and a third one. We developed computer applications in various fields, from accounting to the food industry to aircraft manufacturing.

    Our children grew up, and society evolved. The Information Technology market was still new and competition was not always fair. After a while I gave up my private enterprises and joined an insurance company as the director of their computer department.

    Québec, Musée de la civilisation, 2006
    Québec, Musée de la civilisation, 2006

    At one point, my second son, Alex, began to suggest that we emigrate. I did not want to at first, but I tried once and was refused. Alex continued to insist. After deeper reflection, we decided to leave, not for my wife’s and my sake, since we had already established ourselves in good careers, but to provide our children with more opportunities.

    Thus it was that on August 8, 2000 we landed in Montreal with Canadian permanent resident visas in our hands.

    After 10 years in Canada at the same firm, an IBM company, I decided to  return to running my own business, so I incorporated and started working as an independent consultant. I was able to gain enough North American experience to maintain a variety of clients in Canada and Europe and also obtained a few contracts for World Bank–funded projects for countries in Africa. Currently, I find myself with my own consulting firm in information technologies, plus a small music agency, providing contracts and gigs for a few musical groups.

    My family? That’s another long story… Together, scattered, partly reassembled, rebuilt in another form and broken up again, major health problems for some— fortunately resolved or almost resolved. Our children are grown up, independent, and I sometimes feel strange because nobody needs me like they used to, but that’s part of life, right? I do find, from time to time, someone who needs back-up, someone I can help; I am a kind of “life facilitator”, as they say. Some live for themselves, others are cut out to live for others and this is the way I feel good.



  • About the longing / Despre dor (3/3)

      By Dan Lazar Trifan


    English translation: Dan Lazar Trifan

    English editors: Nancy Meshkoff (Vermont, USA) and John D. Powell (Vermont, USA)


    Interview published in the book “At the roots, at origins … Talks at Subcetate” by Doina Dobreanu and Vasile Dobreanu, Publisher: Cezara Codruţa Marica, 2014

    Romanian title: Dan-Lazăr Trifan –Despre Dor (Dor: Romanian word for longing, yearning)


    DD: You exchanged the peace of a Transylvanian village for the bustle of Bucharest, and then you integrated into Canadian culture. A person’s place is where he can be natural and persuasive in everything. Similarities and differences between individuals, between cultures, bring beauty to life. Man is in a constant search, the search for the Self, and for the means to express himself. Did you find in Canada the possibilities for self-expression that you wanted?

    DLT: Expressing yourself, manifesting from within yourself, you can do that anywhere. Well, almost anywhere. What makes the difference, however, is to be able to convince some people to listen and a few to follow. Otherwise, it’s like talking to the wall or preaching in the desert.

    Every society, every culture, has both good aspects and aspects that are less good. After 1989, Romania was considered to be a new El Dorado for a certain category of businesspeople. African markets, economic booms in some African countries, created unexpected opportunities. The stability and financial strength of Europe also offered opportunities.

    Canada, and Quebec in particular, had something different to offer, in social terms: freedom of expression, openness, tolerance, multiculturalism, social stability, a good level of social services, and support for initiatives in any field. These are things we do not find in Communist cultures or in the ironically-named Balkan spirit, such as having the right to be wrong, feeling good in your own skin, having a positive outlook on life, speaking out when you have a problem rather than hiding it out of pride or for some obscure reason; and then, civilized behaviour, courtesy, volunteering, a society where “It’s not possible” isn’t often heard, less corruption, or at least less obvious general corruption, openness to the new and to knowledge.

    My daughter once missed a class. She called the teacher the next day and apologized, and the teacher said, “No problem, you have the right to miss a class or two,” and then sent her the course notes by e-mail, so that she could catch up. This tolerance, openness, and acceptance of error, of human imperfection, shows a certain level of social culture, social maturity.

    The less positive aspects of the culture are everywhere. It’s not possible not to have them. Perfection is at best a direction, never a human reality. At one point, Quebec had a political slogan saying that “being different is an asset.” Although the slogan has a political flavour and a demagogic use, a society that is able to take advantage of differences has a great advantage in accelerating its progress. We live today in what is called the “global village”, and to integrate, rather than assimilate, to create something new by merging these differences in the social melting pot without destroying the individual flavours— this is an art of contemporary social policy that few countries have. Canada possesses it, for the most part. Quebec also has it, with its peculiarities of being a French island in this North-American, English-speaking world.

    As to the place of each individual, there is a Romanian saying: “The man consecrates the place,” or, as the French say, “A good farmer makes a good farm.” Now, of course, we can argue about various points; some places are easier to “consecrate” than others.

    Concerning cultural differences and social and cultural integration, I would say that the first condition for integration is to define the socio-cultural “place where you belong”. Once again, we are talking about integration, not assimilation. This is my own opinion on integration. Others might see it differently.

    Many try to deny the past, to forget, to deny their origins, the culture in which they grew up and were shaped. I consider this to be a way of hiding an inability to be integrated into your own culture in the first place, even if the reasons and justifications for that are sometimes real.

    Never in my life have I felt so strongly, so urgently, the need to declare and define my belonging to a cultural, historical and emotional Romanian space. Living in your home country, within the culture in which you were born, you take it all for granted. You do not even think about it. You aren’t aware of it and don’t appreciate it enough. You do not even know that you have it- all these values ​​that define your own culture and ultimately yourself. But when you are opposed, faced with or placed in front of differences with other cultures, other values, other habits, when you are asked many times a day “d’où vous venez,”—where you come from—you cannot simply answer, “From Romania,” because Romania is not just a place on a map.

    You feel the need to assert your membership, to present your personal cultural offering, so that you can balance what the local culture has to offer, to prove that you bring something specific, something new, and did not come here to forget your roots and pretend that you’ve become Canadian, or Quebecois, in a few days, quickly picking up the local jargon. Perhaps it works this way also, but I felt that this would not be my way of proceeding. I can offer much more, because I’m backed up by a solid, thousand-year-old history and culture—that is, if you know that culture, if you are part of it, and do not deny it. I felt the need to fill in the lack of information, to correct false images about Romania, associated for many only with the name Nadia and with perceptions of Ceausescu, or Dracula.

    A young Romanian, a former schoolmate of Ileana’s in his late teens, won a scholarship to study in the US. In the first weeks, he said he felt a pressing need to immediately answer questions like: Who am I? Where do I come from? What am I doing here? He felt the need to define himself in relation to a new society. He began to ask for CDs, pictures, specific objects from home. He decorated the wall of his room with maps and pictures of Romania and listened to Romanian music. This is a phase of awakening, of the awareness of your own belonging to the cultural space in which you were born.

    To capitalize on cultural similarities and differences, historical traditions, and differences in customs, lifestyles, and moral values, you must first identify them ​​and accept them. Integration takes much longer for those who emigrate at an older age, and it’s a process that sometimes fails. Many remain hung up somewhere in between the two cultures, between two existential spaces, oscillating, hesitating, and sometimes no longer able to find their place in either what was or in what currently is. Others, more fortunate, have learned to find that “home place” in their soul and take it with them everywhere, no matter where they go. They are the ones who feel good, who feel like they’re at home, no matter where they are. You call them “uprooted”? Hmmm! I’d say, rather, that they are those able to take their roots with them! Lorena McKenna, in the foreword to her album The Visit, says something like, “Life is like visiting. And when you are visiting someone’s house, you should know who you are, where you live, and what you do, and pay attention to what impressions and memories you leave behind.” You care about the person you are. We are, generally speaking, visitors in this life, in this world, but applied to the immigrant condition, with a change in countries. That need for self-identification and self-awareness, (“la conscience du soi” (fr), « conștiința de sine » (ro)) is much stronger. We know where we come from, where we are, what we seek, and what we do. If you make from this a way of life, without tension, effortlessly and naturally, you will feel “at home” anywhere. There may be people who do not feel comfortable “visiting” because they perceive some constraints, and this destroys or alters, most often unconsciously, the beauty of humanity. What can I say? Each one feels good in his own element: fish feel good in the water, birds in the air … You can continue with some bi/quadrupeds and understand what I mean.

    Where do I feel the best? Is that what you wanted to ask me? The answer is: among people. Yes, among people.

    DD: What is your life besides family and profession? What do you enjoy, what are you passionate about?

    DLT: I am passionate about people, first and foremost. I am fascinated by their individuality, uniqueness, and personalities, their culture, history, and individual values, how they evolve in response to the challenges and trials life brings. I’ve had the chance to meet many people, around the globe, very different people, and I was lucky enough to gather a few valuable ones amongst those whom I consider my closest friends. Soul friends. It is interesting to learn, in 10 minutes, the life story of a taxi driver, who was a horticultural engineer; or, in a few hours on a plane, the life story of a girl, a beautiful girl, used by smugglers to transport jewellery; or, in a work week with a mixed team of experts, the story of each- one from the Canary Islands, another an Arab living in Ontario, another Senegalese living in Quebec, or a former African prime minister and expert in poverty reduction programs.

    It’s exciting to learn about them also through the languages they speak. I have played, let’s say, with languages: a year of Russian, retaken at university because you could easily find books translated into Russian; French for 12 years; some English, which I’ve been polishing lately with my family; one year of studying Arabic; Hungarian, which I learned in high school so I could impress a girl with long love letters; German, which I practiced a little in the nineties, while doing some business in Germany; and I can read and write Greek.

    Language defines people. Their personalities and mental constructions are built around linguistic elements. My stepdaughter, Ariane, was born into a bilingual family, and you could say she has two different personalities: one when she’s in a French environment and speaks French, (Quebec dialect, of course!), and a different one when she’s in the English-speaking world.

    For pleasure, and to gather together a diverse group of people, we used to have periodic gatherings, for example, once a month, holding a small party in a space made available to us by Mr. Radu Jorj, a Romanian “vigneron” or vintner, one of the best in Quebec, the owner at the time of the oldest vineyard in Quebec, one of those exceptional people I had the chance to meet and become friends with. We gathered around the table: Europeans, North Americans, Africans, Quebec residents, or visitors. These meetings brought us great intellectual satisfaction.

    Yes, social and cultural diversity and diverse origins are interesting, enriching, but it depends on how and to what end they are used. In preparing a TV show, a Romanian director from Toronto once launched a discussion on Facebook with the question, “How much can we accept compromises with or breaches of our own values in order to integrate into a society whose values we do not completely share?” How we make our incompatibility compatible and reach a “modus vivendi” in this amalgam of cultural, religious, social, and moral values? This discussion could go on and on, from the extremes of isolation that may result in small communities, to the abandonment of integration, to the terminological and factual invention of what some Quebec politicians call “reasonable accommodation”. Is this humour, or drama?

    Otherwise, as to my interests, my family comes first, then my profession, but I have many other interests, from music to gardening, from travel to cultivating flowers, from taking pictures to spending time in the company of interesting people in interesting discussions, generating new intellectual perspectives.

    I do follow the evolution of the virtual world and what is happening on the Internet. It’s fascinating to discover how people adapt and reinvent themselves, their relationships, their socializing, their individual personalities, everything, including love, including crime, including poetry, including lifestyles. Everything is reinvented in this virtual space without limits.

    I like “tinkering”, handcrafting things. I am a blacksmith’s son, right? Doing repairs around the house or in electronics, carpentry, or car repairs, inventing and building things, designing all kinds of stuff, or just let the mind run-on.. It does not matter what. And there are always plenty of things to do.

    I would love to have the time and the calm to write. I am in a hurry all the time. You see it even here in my writing style, no? It’s too busy, too condensed. The text doesn’t breathe, does it, Doina?

    Maybe I should retire? I don’t think I can see myself in that role!

    DD: Music is a balm for the soul. Is music a way to get closer to God? Your son, Mircea, is passionate about music. The two of you have created “Valuri de Mătase” project, a source of enjoyment for many of us. Tell us about this project!

    DLT: Yes, it’s a duo on flute and electric guitar, Terry Ellen Christophersen and Mircea Trifan, from Quebec. This is a special and unique chapter in my life, following my artistic interests. I remember, far, far back in time, at a student show in the sixties, in Topliţa, an accordion duo who came on stage at one point, Doiniţa Dobreanu and Dănuţ Trifan. Do you remember?

    All during college, I was interested in interdisciplinary studies, mathematics and music. I did take a year of courses in harmony and counterpoint at the Music Conservatory, along with my studies in mathematics.

    Valuri de Matase
    Valuri de Matase
    A year's day
    A year’s day

    But besides that, and besides listening, consuming music in the most common way, I had no major involvement with music. The story began in Quebec, with the one who became my life partner for a while, a professional musician, a flutist, passionate and open to new experiences. With her ​​and Mircea, my son, a musician himself, we launched the Valuri de Mătase (“Silky Waves”) project around 2003 or 2004. The basic idea, the artistic concept behind the project, was to go back in time to the period where the ancestors of today’s Romanians and the Celts met. The two cultures crossed paths over time. The Celts, who until 400 BC were in Europe, (you can see their influences in the ancient Hallstatt culture in Austria), crossed the Dacian area at some point. They were chased away, from what history tells us, by Burebista, King of the Getae and the Dacians. Then, after 400 BC, they began their migration to England, leaving the continent. Their culture did not leave any written traces, only influences. Celtic cultural elements remained in the cultures through which they passed. There are common elements, for example, in old Romanian and Celtic music, and in the group Valuri de Mătase, the two musicians have incorporated these common elements in their style, in selecting songs, making arrangements, and interpretation. The group produced two albums, Valuri de Mătase and A Year’s Day, which are registered in the Library and Archives of Canada as part of Canadian cultural heritage.

    Being involved in Quebec’s Romanian community for a while, I became an artistic director and producer of shows, work which gave me great pleasure. Working with artists, these outstanding, tempestuous, impetuous personalities, is always challenging, but it’s a privilege at the same time. Collaborations with dozens of Romanian artists, from Quebec or elsewhere, on stage next to artists from Quebec, brought an enormous spiritual enrichment to the city. The artists had the opportunity to discover each other, and all of us were pleased to see that music can be a universal language, transcending all differences.

    If you visit the websites www.valuridematase.com and www.tridamusic.com, or  related websites, you will discover interesting things about these artistic interests. Since 2004, we have played shows all across Quebec: outdoors, in cathedrals, at libraries and parties, at public concerts, at museums, on radio stations, at festivals, or in promotional displays at malls. With the various groups of musicians and their guest artists, we’ve accomplished a lot, at the price of a huge effort, but it was worth it.

    Currently, my little agency represents several groups of musicians, including Mircea’s current group, Melão International, which plays Latin music. I took intensive salsa lessons in the summer of 2013 so I could enjoy their music from the front as well as behind the scenes as a manager or cameraman.

    Does music bring us closer to divinity? Life, our existential space, presents each one of us, if we are able to discern it, to grasp it, with the whole range of possibilities in terms of spiritual experiences. Everything that could exist as individual choices, as options, as ways of acting, as faith, as feeling, from our pragmatic daily routines, where we are confronted with dull (but sometimes difficult) day-to-day problems, tedious but necessary, from compensating for our shortcomings to the times when we are moved to more spiritual experiences, spiritual areas, and emotional spaces. It’s up to us to realize that we have these possibilities, to seize them, and to walk in one direction or another. It is about not letting ourselves be marked, defined, or limited by what happens to us every day, in our imposed rounds. Music can be a means of taking a spiritual journey through time and space, if it is seen and used as such and not just “consumed”. So it is meditation and prayer, as well as art. The crystalline sound of the flute and the deep, full sound of the guitar chords, the vocal inflections of a liturgical choir in a cathedral, or an ancestral carol sung a cappella and echoing from an altar—all of these can open unsuspected spiritual spaces for anyone’s soul.

    At our church in Quebec, we were lucky to have for a while as our choir conductor a great person, a great talent, who took simple amateurs like me and the other members of our choir and produced a concert in a cathedral that brought the audience to tears. I do listen from time to time to the recordings we’ve made of concerts on similar occasions. Yes, I can say that music can transport you. It can help reveal and uncover feelings and emotions that you did not previously even know that you were able to have.

    At the time when I translate and publish the English and French versions of this interview, I’d say the answer to this question could be given by Alex, my second son. Kundalini yoga instructor and practitioner, and musician, he integrated yoga and music wholly, where divinity, beauty, humanity and man himself become a full, celebrating harmony, oneness and eternity of life. Also Ileana, my daughter, whose spiritual experiences have passed, in a time, over spaces where boundaries between the imaginary and real, divine and diabolical, material and spiritual were diluted to the point to allow impossible coexistences into a world where music can become bivalent within the duality (or oneness?) sacred-satanic. Alex says: There is no hate and love. There is only love.

    Does music bring us closer to God? Or, I wonder whether we find Him, surprising and surprisingly close, right next to us, inside us, in our hearts, where he was and is all the time.

    DD: Travels nourish our soul, and you have had the chance to travel. What is the most wonderful place that you’ve seen and what do you want to see in the future?

    Ouagadougou, 2007
    Ouagadougou, 2007

    DLT: Each place is special. Everything in this world is worth seeing. Each location brings us spiritual and cultural enrichment, through the people who live there and through their achievements. Bucharest, Cluj, Constanţa, Timişoara, Iași, or any village in Romania—they all look as interesting to me as the large cities of the world: Paris, London, Frankfurt, Berlin, Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Lausanne, Havana, Toronto, Boston, Montreal, Ouagadougou, Kigali, or Nairobi, or any lost village, dans la brousse, in the scrubland of Africa, or the small chic towns in Bretagne, or the chains of towns and castles on the tops of the mountains along the valley of the Rhine. I like traveling, especially in the company of special people. What you cannot share has no value.

    Some images in my memory have a stronger impact and are more significant than others. I remember seeing Ouagadougou from the hotel
    window. On the right side was the hotel courtyard, luxurious, modern, clean, with swimming pools; on the other side of the cement wall was red dirt, with garbage all around, with some homeless people sitting under a tree—two faces of the same city.

    I still have plenty of places I want to visit: South America, Asia, Oceania, and Russia. I still have a lot to see even in Romania and in Europe.

    DD: What childhood dreams have you achieved?

    DLT: Oh, childhood dreams! So many that I would have to live much more than one life even to try to achieve them! Achievements? Well, I launched three children into the world. I have contributed and still contribute to some other people’s successes in life; I am what is called a “life facilitator” for many people. I traveled. I became a professional with an international reputation, (some say), but I have not yet flown the glider I built inside the house. I did not get to be an aviator, nor an airplane builder. However, Mircea is an aerospace engineer! I did not get to express myself freely through music. I can play the piano and guitar a little, but my children, Mircea, Alex, Ileana, and Ariane, make music with a vengeance. I did not learn to draw or paint, but Ileana does it. I still have not found antigravity’s secrets. I still have not written a book…

    This is not related to childhood dreams, but the biggest thing I have left undone in life, the thing I wish I could’ve done better, is that I wish I had been closer to my parents when they were alive, closer to my brothers and sister, and to our native places. It’s one of the greater pains that I carry.

    I do not think I have achieved exceptional things.

    It puzzles me even now that you’ve selected me for your book, along with people with more prestigious accomplishments, people of great talent who have made major contributions in the social, cultural, scientific, artistic, and literary domains.

    DDYou want to seem modest, but you are a special person, and I thank you for agreeing to talk to us so sincerely, with such warmth and joy and with your fascinating personality. Thank you for the opportunity you give us to enrich ourselves with your depth of feeling and thought.

    DLT: I see my achievements as normal. Even my mistakes have been normal. Without my mistakes, I could probably have done much more, but I would not have learned so much. I just went down the path that life placed in front of me, making sure at the crossroads, at the intersections, not to take a path that was not suited to me, in a direction that might adversely affect the others.

    DD: Is everything you’ve done so far due to a particular creed?

    DLT: A “credo” … I don’t know what to say. It’s too much. A “creed” requires a bit of fanaticism, a little involuntary blindness, a little existential restriction. I am rather, I think, an experimenter, someone who likes to play with borders, with ideas, with his own limits. The obstacles and the barriers are simply challenges for people like me.

    But what I did try to follow in life, what I have tried to live by all the time, and what could be considered a belief in a way, is what my father, a Transylvanian man by definition, once told me: “Whatever you do in life, do it well!”

    But you haven’t asked me about my future plans. Why not?

    DD: With much love, I will, then. I invite you to talk about them, if you please!

    DTL: Well, since you’ve asked me so insistently, I’ll answer you.

    First, I would like to have grandchildren. It is not up to me; you say? Yes, that’s right, but I like to have little children around. They fill the house, the soul, the life.

    There are a few continents I have yet to see, many people I do not yet know. There are also a few people around me who need me for a while longer, until they can get on their own feet.  After that, who knows?

    I plan to come home more often. That is, to one of my “at home”. To Subcetate.

    I plan to start writing. Not about my memories, I say I’m too young for that. Some prose and some love poetry. Sometimes love has thorns, and here I’m plagiarising a bit the work of our friend Mitică Hurubă.

    I do plan to keep taking Latin dance classes.

    I also have a more practical plan: I arranged a large garden, a new one, where I can plant vegetables, flowers, and blackcurrants, from which Mircea will help me make wine, from Dad’s recipe, modified a bit. Mine is closer to ice wine or to port wine.

    Professionally speaking, I would like to go back to studying. You can be a student here in Quebec at any age. I have in mind some interesting research I’d like to do on subjects like antigravity, algorithm-based music composition, and shock waves in plasma.

    And I plan to continue to ask myself questions without answers, some of them nonsense-like: What am I doing in this world? Why do roses have thorns? Why does love hurt? Did anyone, thousands of years ago, ever use the Big Dipper to carry the hay home? How can longing be so sweet? How is it that one can fall in love with the loam, the earth? Why can I never hate? Why do I get hurt so deeply by insincerity and dishonesty? And what was my mother’s big secret, the one that enabled her to be always at peace with herself and with the entire universe, even when she had to suffer?

    DD: God give you health and time to enjoy the successes you wish for, keep your mind sparkling with enjoyment of the theater of life, with still so many mysteries, and may you live happily ever after!

    I am very, very anxious to see your first book! See you in Subcetate—much more often! 
    __________________________________________________________________

    Convorbiri la Subcetate
    Convorbiri la Subcetate
    Convorbiri la Subcetate
    Convorbiri la Subcetate

    Published by Doinita-Ana Dobreanu in “Life at Subcetate”, City Council and City Hall’s magazine, published under supervision of teachers from “Miron Cristea” College, ISSN 2343 – 8215; L ISSN 2343 – 8215, January 2015

    Dan Lazăr Trifan is an mathematician, Senior International IT Consultant, born in Subcetate, Romania, living in Quebec, Canada



  • About the Longing (Despre dor) (full)

      By Dan Lazar Trifan


    English translation: Dan Lazar Trifan

    English editors: Nancy Meshkoff (Vermont, USA) and John D. Powell (Vermont, USA)


    Interview published in the book “At the roots, at origins … Talks at Subcetate” by Doina Dobreanu and Vasile Dobreanu, Publisher: Cezara Codruţa Marica, 2014

    Romanian title: Dan-Lazăr Trifan –Despre Dor (Dor: Romanian word for longing, yearning)


    Doina Dobreanu: Dănuţ Trifan, I’m so glad to see you each time we meet again in Subcetate. Thank you for agreeing to this online talk. So many years have passed since you left home. Your first step was going to High school in Târgu-Mureş in 1966. Let’s look at life in your family home beside Călnaci Stream in Subcetate, when you had a childhood full of freedom and unlimited dreams. Who were your parents? Who sent you out into life with a specific genetic endowment and education?

    Dan with his village
    Dan with his village

    Dan-Lazăr Trifan: Before answering, I want to thank you for the honour of being placed in the company of the many impressive people in Talks at Subcetate. I never knew how much Subcetate has contributed to the world until I saw the range of personalities in your book. I admire them all, although I know only a few, and I feel privileged to offer my own modest contribution to it. I also want to confess that I cheated a bit because I had other members of my family look at my responses and verify some of the information.

    My father was Gheorghe Trifan, called “George Covaciu”, from the Hungarian word kovács, meaning “blacksmith”. My mother was Viorica Trifan, born Dobreanu, a family name that comes from the Slavic root dobre, meaning “good”. Talking about them is something very special, simple and pleasant on the one hand, but extremely difficult on the other hand. Why?  Because I have a whole universe of memories. Nothing could be more rewarding than talking about these two wonderful people, but it’s also difficult because, for us, they were the creators of an entire world, our childhood universe.

    It was, of course, a universe contained within Subcetate’s universe, but for the Trifans it was something special, something particular. By “the Trifans” I mean the family created by the union of a Dobreanu and a Trifan. The Trifans’ universe was a space they created by nothing else but by what they were, by what they represented for us, by what they did for us, and especially by how they did it. It was a mixture of conformity and nonconformity, respect for tradition and breaking traditions: the simple peasant life and the life of craftsmen, given that my father was a blacksmith and my mother had a passion for weaving. For us kids, it was a mixture of strict discipline and a freedom that other children didn’t have or couldn’t afford.

    Gheorghe Trifan 1976
    Gheorghe Trifan 1976

    My father, Gheorghe, was born in 1909 in the village of Dămuc, Bicaz County, to a family of peasants, shepherds, and raftsmen (log driver). He ran away from home at age 16, to learn to be a blacksmith, breaking family tradition to create his own path. He opened his smithy in Subcetate, across the mountains from where he was born.

    My father went through the First World War as a child refugee, and through the Second as a Romanian soldier fighting for the Germans. The 1940 Trianon Treaty had made almost half of Transylvania, (including Subcetate), part of Hungary, a German ally, and my father was forcibly recruited into Miklos Horthy’s Hungarian army. (In 1944, Michael of Romania’s coup d’état brought the Romanians to the side of the Allies.)

    Since he served with a unit of mechanics behind the frontline, it was difficult for him to get far enough to the front to cross over to the Romanian army. While attempting it, he was taken prisoner by the Russians. But he was lucky to have two things that allowed him, and many of his brothers-in-arms, to avoid the Soviet gulag: his Romanian citizenship and his exceptional mother in-law, Ioana Dobreanu.

    My grandmother, Ioana, had been given a letter that had been smuggled out of the prison camp, and she walked—actually walked! —180

    Manual drill machine in my father workshop
    Manual drill machine in my father workshop

    kilometers from Subcetate to Brasov. There, stubborn and determined, she alerted the Romanian authorities to the presence of Romanians in the Soviet prison camp. So they were liberated, and avoided the Siberian gulag, where so many others who were less fortunate endured inhuman treatment or died.

    So he escaped hardship in the gulag, only to be labeled by the communists as a kulak, (that is, a better-off peasant whom they considered to be an enemy of poor peasants), because of his threshing machine, tractor, and smithy.

    And that thresher, which worked up and down the Mureş River’s villages every autumn, bringing in the grain harvest for many farms—where had it come from? He had built it himself, in the winter of 1945, while in a wheelchair, sick with jaundice, after his months in the Soviet prison camp in Brasov.

    So that the kulak designation would not affect his children’s future, he decided to leave his family for two years, living alone and isolated in the mountains.

    In the late fifties, he abandoned his smithy and got himself hired as a maintenance mechanic at the sawmill in Hodoşa and joined the millworkers’ union. But the kulak taint remained, and his two older children, Ilie and Radu, were stigmatized by this false and abusive designation.

    My mother, Viorica, was born in 1920, the oldest of five sisters and a brother. Her parents were Ioan Dobreanu, the village furrier, and Ioana Rus Dobreanu. The other villagers gathered at their home in the evenings, when my grandpa would read them the newspapers and discuss politics. The Dobreanu branch of the family, to which you and I belong, are descendants of the founder of Subcetate. I know you studied the history of our village and published a book on it.

    Viorica Trifan at her loom, 1977
    Viorica Trifan at her loom, 1977

    Now, when I talk about my mother, I can’t help getting emotional. I can’t be anything but emotional when talking about her.  I have never seen her sad, never seen her nervous, never seen her lose her temper. I’ve seen her concerned, yes, but she usually wore a discreet and enigmatic smile, knowing and understanding everything, even before it happened, crossing over difficulties and hard times as if they didn’t exist. A little handful of a woman, petite and slender, yet able to move mountains or to bend a harsh, proud, stubborn man like my father. Incredible how much power lay in such a fragile woman, married at only 16 years old, while still a child, who brought up six, fine children herself.

    There was something mysterious in her being, something supernatural—divine, I’d say. Her inner power could come only from love and faith. Love of family and children, of her vocations as a peasant, a weaver, a florist; and love of life. And faith, a devoted faith, intrinsic, intimate, felt rather than spoken, lived rather than just practiced.

    Churchgoing didn’t define her faith, or my father’s. Faith was in their entire way of acting, thinking, and behaving. Their evening prayer was an act of mystery; holy, constant, intimate. My mother’s faith was her way of life, was her life itself. My father’s, too. They raised their children in that faith, but at the same time they gave them the liberty (and the responsibility) to choose; they helped them to build their own beliefs and faith, exercise their own freedom of conscience.

    They were people with passions, both of them. My dad loved his work and lived for and by it. He was an inventor, holding patents on innovations and inventions, and he could work materials, especially iron and steel, like an artist. Whatever his hand touched was under his control. He dominated them, the things. They listened to him, whether it was iron, wood, a tractor, a thresher, a plough, saws, nails, or screws. He was a blacksmith and loved iron things. He collected them, gathered them from wherever he found them, even from the road or from the mud.

    He didn’t speak much, but he always had “a word”. Now, this- “a word”- needs to be explained. He once told me that “a man has to have a word.”  And it took me a long time to understand what he meant. Later, in college, following the mathematical proofs of theorems, I often came across the saying, “necessary and sufficient”, and at some point I made ​​the connection: I understood that a man, (or a woman), has to have a word, an opinion, a position on any matter—but one word, not two, not three- One- To be consistent and true to himself. It’s a life philosophy that makes a person someone you can work with and count on. The world in which I live now calls such a person “reliable”.

    My mother’s passions? They were gardening, flowers, and sewing, weaving on a loom my father made for her, harvesting vegetables and other crops from our farmland.

    She was a born artist with an extraordinary perception of colors and shapes. In love with them. Carpets adorned her house. She sewed the

    Viorica Trifan carpet
    Viorica Trifan carpet

    traditional shirts we wear on holidays. She left to each one of us a kind of legacy. I carry with me some pieces she made ​​especially for me. I’ve shown them at exhibitions, for the Romanian culture days we organized in Quebec in previous years. When people expressed their admiration and took pictures of them, I thought about what she would have said.

    “Well, Dănuţ, those people, do they really like my work? They took a lot of pictures …”

    DD: Your brother George said, about your mother: “We six children began our lives crawling around our mother’s loom, and we first stood on our feet by pulling ourselves up on her loom. We mold ourselves after the people, things, and places we grow up around; and we are never able to detach ourselves from them!”

    DLT: One night, some school children took flowers from her garden. When she saw what they’d done, she cried because several others had been stepped on and destroyed. She went to the school and complained to the teachers, not because the children had taken the flowers, but because they’d trampled others. “They only had to ask me, and I would gladly have given them the flowers they wanted.” A saying that defined her thinking, her way of looking at life, was: “Why always put the bad up front, when the good fits in anywhere?”

    I’ve left for the end one of the greatest passions of both my parents, something very important to us children: their great thirst for knowledge, the avidity with which they read, watched the news, read the newspapers, listened to the radio, and followed our learning. They learned with us. We learned from them, and they learned with us.

    I’ll stop here, because otherwise you won’t have enough pages left in your book for anyone else. This is the difficulty I was talking about: nothing I say about them will ever be enough. They are a world, the space in which we lived, a universe beyond time and space, beyond our lives. It’s been a long time since they passed over to the other world, to nonexistence, but the space and the world they created still exists and will exist forever in my heart. If I ever have the time to write, I will dedicate a book to them—one to each of them, and another one to both of them together.

    DD: Touching words about your parents!

    Gheorghe and Viorica, 1036
    Gheorghe and Viorica, 1936

    Thanks to your brother George, I have a photo from your parents’ wedding and got to hear his thoughts about it: “You can read their history in this picture. My mother was 16, my father 27. My mother accused her parents of cutting her girlhood short. My father left his village and the family home after a big disappointment. The two of them lived together for 52 years and had six children. They were like two sharp, solid rocks, bound together very strongly by their children. My mother always kept her purity of mind and spirit. No judgments were needed, no rational analysis or synthesis. She based her behaviour and her attitudes on what she felt. She was a lover of flowers, of pets, and, most of all, of children. Both of them respected and took responsibility for truth, dignity, and honesty. Each provided their children with the ability to earn a living through their work. In describing them, you’d have to talk about old values that are acquired only through hard work and a lot of patience … and so much more!”

    What did it mean to you to grow up in a traditional Romanian village, in the Subcetate of the fifties and sixties? What did it meant to live in a beautiful family with loving parents, worthy people, willing to sacrifice, passing on to their kids, by means of their own example, things like kindness, respect for work, an ethical and moral code in the spirit of their tradition, as well as a love for learning?

    DLT: Perceived through the eyes of Dănuţ, born on August 1, 1951, the fifties and sixties are one world. But the perception of the one who went through those years and the years beyond, the Dan Lazăr Trifan you are interviewing now, tends to alter Dănuţ’s perception, because he sees a different world. That’s normal, right? Life experience alters our perceptions. The child’s existential and cognitive interior provides one perspective. From where I stand today, with the experiences and accumulations of a lifetime from different places, continents, and cultures, I frame the childhood space in a larger context, contained within the whole, and my perception changes accordingly.

    When I first felt this tendency to amend my original perception of my childhood world, I did not like it. I felt that by adding to and completing memories through rational understanding we actually lose something important, something essential to Dănuţ’s perception. He, the kid, still exists, he’s part of me, of my children, of all children in Subcetate then and now. So for the kid back there in time, for the kids of today and tomorrow, the original perceptions must be kept intact, unaltered, unchanged. Above all, they must be passed on. It’s a real challenge, keeping the feeling of this lost world even as memories or emotions, isn’t it? “I do not crush the world’s corolla of wonder and I do not kill mysteries,” wrote Lucian Blaga in 1919 in his Poems of Light. Too much rationality and the ransacking of memories and events for causes and explanations are useless here. The authentic reliving of these memories in all their emotional force is sufficient.

    So, what did it mean to grow up in the Subcetate of the fifties and sixties?

    It meant having the great luck to be born and grow up in an oasis of stability in emotional, social, moral, cultural, and religious terms. This stability alone can give the future adult self-confidence and form him as a balanced person strongly anchored into a well-defined way of life. Even if things change later on, he starts life with a solid reference point, a benchmark. For example, family life- working with parents, the complexity of life in the countryside, where tasks are extremely diverse- give children raised in the country many more skills and habits than children raised in the city. A child growing up in a big city, hemmed in by buildings, amid the noise of cars and pollution of all kinds, beset by too much information and too many too-rapid changes, does not always perceive the essence of the human being. The soul does not learn contemplation and the mind does not acquire introspective ability, does not have time to acquire depth in feeling and thinking.

    I do not pretend to have the absolute truth about this. Factors such as parents, the social microclimate, school, or luck can totally change things. It’s more like a personal statistical observation.

    Just to illustrate what life in Subcetate was like for Dănuţ, it gave him the chance to read almost all the books in two libraries, the school’s and the municipality’s, without discrimination or selection. Was that good? Was it bad?

    He also had the chance to experience more serious or more playful projects, which some might call crazy, silly experiences. Now, here I should really tell you about a few!

    By fifth or sixth grade, I was fascinated by aviation and subscribed to a science and technology review. I designed a glider and, to my surprise, my father, who was usually very thrifty, even stingy, agreed to give me the necessary materials. I worked all fall and all winter, in the house, in the big room at the downstream end of our house by the water, a room that was not entirely finished. By spring, I had finished my glider. Surprisingly, my dad came regularly to ask me how my work was going and to check my technical solutions, and for some reason he always had a slight smile under his moustache. So I finished the fuselage and installed the wings, waiting for the snow to melt so I could try it out by rolling it off the top of the very steep northern edge of the stream and landing in the big field on the other side. When I went to move it out of the house, I realized that the wings were so long that it would not pass through the door. My father—who of course was present—asked me very seriously, “Now, Dănuţ, do you mean to demolish the wall to get it out?” You could see he could hardly keep from laughing uproariously. Of course, he forbade me to try out my glider as well!

    When I was five or six years old, my father began to take me with him during the threshing season, to villages from Răstoliţa to Deda or Dumbrava. I still have very vivid memories of life in the countryside during the harvest period, with the fragrant orchards, the barns filled with sacks of freshly-threshed grain from my father’s thresher, with people working from dawn to dusk, without rest but with pleasure and passion. I liked the villages so much—sinewy, hard-working men, the beautiful women, and the children… and the young girls, hmm! One year, when I returned, I told my mother that when I grew up I would take seven wives, one from each of the villages we went to. This story made the ​​rounds of the village for a while; it is part of my history now. It is true that, later on, when I was a teenager, I stopped once in Dumbrava to see if I could track down one of the seven I’d had in mind—a brunette with long hair and bright, black eyes like two coals, sweet as a ripe plum and as full of life as a fountain of fresh, cold water.

    Then there were my celluloid rocket experiments. One of the rockets I built, rather than shooting upwards, went off in another direction, entering the smithy through a small hole in a window and shooting right past my father’s ear. Another one I installed on a small boat. When I tried it in the stream behind the house, it exploded, and a policeman came to investigate who was shooting off illegal firearms.

    Or maybe I should talk about the opportunity I had when one of our teachers took me and a colleague to spend two months in the high school’s physics and chemistry laboratories, checking and operating all the devices and learning how they worked.

    Or how lucky I was to have a math teacher so interested in his students that, after hours, without being paid, he guided us in solving mathematical problems for the national Mathematical Gazette, and helped us gain the title the magazine gave to its best and most frequent contributors: “Permanent math problem solvers”.

    All this shows how fortunate we were to have a school in the village with wonderful teachers. They were able to organize a long trip across half the country, for almost all of the students, turning two passenger cars into dormitories with canteens, where we had everything we needed. At train stations, the cars were left on sidings while the teachers took us to visit factories, museums, schools, and historical places. We learned the country we were living in. I was in third grade, I think.

    DD: I remember that trip with pleasure. I was there, too.

    The Trifans, 1972
    The Trifans, 1972

    DLT: Life in Subcetate also meant living with my sister and brothers: Ilie (Romanian for Elijah), the oldest, the eternal adventurer, a fine intellectual and an exceptional craftsman and mechanic, with golden hands, I would say. He was my mentor in life for a period of time; Radu, a stationmaster and railway transport worker, a conquering, handsome man, always in a good mood, inspiring confidence; Doina, a French and Spanish teacher with a passion for languages, attentive, generous but extremely demanding; Ghiţă, another enthusiast, a mechanical engineer, an engineer by definition, let’s say, but idealistic and bohemian in good measure; and Emil, also an engineer, a geological engineer, but with many other talents—music, painting, photography— “bourré de talents”, as a Frenchman would say. I have enough stories for several volumes for each one of them.

    DD: How did you pass the various seasons in Subcetate?

    DLT: Hmm… Seasons! Vivaldi, in a previous life, was certainly Romanian and was raised in Subcetate- it’s a personal belief of mine. But let’s keep it just between us, so that the world doesn’t laugh at us…

    Spring always starts, at school and at home, with the story of the “Mărţișor” (pro. Mârtzishor), the red and white string to which a small decoration is tied, worn by people on the first of March, to bring strength and health during the year. That’s the Allegro, Largo, and Danza

    1'st of March
    1’st of March

    Pastorale in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  Snow began to melt, the small stream behind the house grew, sometimes reaching into the yard and garden, and we walked barefoot through water and mud that were still cold.

    A true story: One spring, the stream that ran behind the house flooded our courtyard and garden up to the knee, and entered the house. Grandfather and grandmother, who lived on the hill, came down through the water to get us out. Grandmother, with her long dress rolled up, entered the house, took the pot of cabbage rolls from the stove, and left. Grandfather shouted after her, “What about the children, Ioana?” to which she replied, “Children have to eat, Ioane!”

    Later, I remember walking with the other boys and girls in the meadows, picking snowdrops on the other side of the Mureş River, where they first appeared.  By April or May, when everything started to turn green again, when the ground was steaming, breathing, waiting for the plows, the farmers’ plows were repaired and sharpened in my father’s yard, and when they were ready, they were lined up neatly by the fence of the little garden. On sunny Sundays in May, when the apple and cherry trees were blooming, we were out in the fields playing tzurca, a traditional game using a bat and a ball, something like baseball.

    I remember going out to plow, on the surrounding hills, for the villagers, with the tractor and the plow my father had built. Hard work, but I enjoyed it. Sunday mornings, when it was quiet and the villagers dressed in their Sunday clothes headed to church, I remember my father reading the newspaper at the kitchen table, and my mother sharing stories with us, rambling on about everything.

    In the summer, we had a little bit of school and then the summer holidays. Vivaldi’s three movements include Allegro non molto, Adagio e piano–Presto e forte, and Presto.

    Children’s holidays were different then, generally made up of working in the fields, in the garden, and around the house, helping their parents. The lucky ones (like us!) could go to a summer camp, somewhere in the mountains or by the sea, for one or two weeks. Later, when I grew up, summer meant working in the sawmill in Hodoşa, to earn some money for clothes. It never seemed difficult; this way of life was normal, accepted because there wasn’t any other. I was pleased with myself and with it.

    July was intense heat beating down on the fields; (I hear the Presto e forte now!), and the rainfall of St. Ilie (Elijah), who makes corn grow and ripen.

    I once heard a story about St. Ilie. He kept asking God to provide rain, lightning, and thunder for his feast day. God kept saying, “Well, wait. Not yet. You still have to wait…” Then one day God said, “But your day has passed.” After this, to make sure, St. Elijah provided rain both before and after his feast day!

    Scytheman
    Scytheman

    After July came August, and a favourite event of mine: all of us, or nearly all of us, going to fields near the Gălăuţaş Forest, to make hay, in the Dobreni garden. A week of life in the wild, in nature, with demanding work, but enjoyable. My trouble was in trying to sharpen a scythe that never cut properly. When a scythe does not cut, you pull till your muscles nearly burst! Finally, one year I had a large, wide scythe that cut like a razor. It’s a feeling beyond description—in the early morning, with the dew on the grass, advancing in line, step by step, furrow to furrow, one after the other, brothers and father, cutting grass without a word, silently, as if performing an ancestral ritual learned somewhere, somehow, leaving behind long rows of heavy furrows and grass with a fresh and beautiful scent. The sound of the sharpening of the scythes, the song of grass falling to the scythes, interrupted by breaks for a solo of the whetstone passing gently over the edge of the scythe, grasshoppers leaping in the grass. Bringing the hay home after a few days, in the big, full, heavy wagon pulled by our tractor, usually towards evening, on country roads full of rocks, potholes, and other obstacles. But it was worth the effort, in the evening, after everything was finished, after a dip in the cool water of the creek behind the house and dinner prepared by my mother, to have the sense of a job well done, finished, feeling fulfilled, pleased with ourselves and with what we’d done.

    Autumn—Allegro, Adagio molto, and Allegro again, but with a different message—when I was still in school, and even after starting school for a while, during the threshing of the grain. I remember going around to different villages with my father during the harvest, after the grain had dried and was ready to be threshed, and how he gradually assigned me to different tasks. It would be too much to tell here, all the impressions and some funny and beautiful stories with the two handsome men, my father and Ilie.

    Threshing campaign
    Threshing campaign

    For some time, however, after collectivization, it was not so nice. Wealth became poverty, courtesy became indifference and bitterness. We’d once been received, hosted, nourished like special people, but after that we got to sleep in the stables, until my father gave up the business. Subcetate escaped collectivization, due both to the opposition of its people and to its hilly topography, which had few large areas for farming.

    I remember not only the work in the fields and the harvest, but going through empty fields afterwards, when we children took the cows to graze, without restrictions as to where or when or on whose land.

    Towards the beginning of winter, I had a period of another type of work with my father, splitting logs for the villagers with a mechanical circular saw he built, making firewood or lumber, moving the heavy logs people had brought from the forest at the end of the preceding winter by hitching them to horses and sliding them along the snow. Allegro, Adagio Allegro molto—these tempos perfectly describe serene and festive December and the calm, white tranquility of January and February’s harsh cold.

    Winter holidays? They’re like stories from fairy tales—tales that we lived. Christmas, the beautifully decorated Christmas tree; carols with the voices of children sounding so beautifully in the crystalline winter sky, breaking the silence of the night here and there; cakes, my mother’s cakes, stuffed cabbage rolls, the traditional Christmas pork specialities. It was the time of year when we were most often able to gather all together at home, to our stoic mother and father’s disguised (but eventually obvious) contentment. A holiday of joy, reunion, the refreshment of the mind. Over the years, however, we lived in more distant places, and we were less and less often able to enjoy being all together for Christmas or New Year’s Eve in our parents’ home.

    Winter brought heavy snow in the fifties and sixties. White winters, with tranquility falling on the village. Activities in the countryside are less intense in winter—skiing, going out with friends over the hills and forests, having all sorts of adventures, ending up with broken bones or injuries, or going out skating with skates we’d made. We improvised, and it created unforgettable memories. It was a season for reflection, I would say. Our village was set in a bowl among the hills, which blocked the wind and made it much easier to bear lower temperatures. My parents bought me my first overcoat for my first year in high school, in Târgu Mureş. Until then, in the winter I’d worn a thick wool sweater, hat, gloves, and winter boots.

    DD: Childhood spaces and feelings of home… Do they make you nostalgic?

    DLT: Nostalgic? Sometimes, yes, when my preoccupations lift and I have the time for my thoughts to wander free. During long trips, for example. Then, yes, I miss that sense of being “at home,” a place that in fact does not exist anymore, but of which we carry a bit, wherever we are and whatever we become. At other times, life, in its difficulty and continuous passing, faces us with different realities and the truth that the past cannot ever be relived. Everything changes. Everything has changed today—places, people, and habits. What remains is the spiritual heritage, the one that helps us find our inner selves, anywhere, anytime. If we keep this feeling of being “at home” in our minds and souls, we feel at home anywhere in the world, on any shore. We integrate our past into our day-to-day present, into our everyday achievements. We hurt when people we cherish are no longer with us.

    Yes, I miss seeing my mom weaving at her loom or coming down the street with her hands folded under her embroidered sheepskin vest, as I’ve known her to do for a lifetime. I miss listening to my dad telling the story of when he defected from the German army, stories from the war, or working with him in the smithy.

    Nostalgia? Yes, I do have it. During the long winters in Quebec, when I’m tired of shovelling the snow blocking the windows so that I can have light in the house, or on the plane to Kigali, or during my long waits in airports in Nairobi or Paris—yes, I feel nostalgia. It sweetens some moments. I’m lucky to have it.

    DD: And your life path or “existential track”?

    DLT: That’s an interesting term you use. On a track, on a route, a person passes through a succession of distinct points. Yes, I move in space, but in time… I feel, rather, that time passes over me, and that my time walking is continuous, not in a series of discrete moments, not composed of points. Time goes through me, and I try to brake, to slow it down, and to make the most of every second that passes through me, to savour it, to feel its color, taste, trends, and effect, to delay the death of every second, to postpone its disappearance. Hmm… Too much philosophy, right?

    Danutz in the 60s
    Danutz in the 60s

    Okay, let’s start at the beginning, which of course can only be in Subcetate. I have many memories, but let’s start with the institutional life of the kid named Dănuţ when he had an excellent start in kindergarten, but kindergarten ended for him on the first day. Life outside it was more interesting. Then school, where I was late for the first day. I was late and couldn’t find any place except in the back of the classroom, and of course I fell in love with the beautiful Elena. (That will be our secret, okay? No one knows about it, not even Elena!)

    I recently learned of something I did the summer before I started school, when the building was under construction. (The fact that we were getting a new school was thanks to the irreplaceable Professor Andrei Cotfas, who tricked the Communist authorities and obtained funds to build the high school by pretending that our small village was actually another, larger one with the same name.) I gathered stones from the road, put them in my pockets, and carried them onto the construction site, where I told the workers to hurry and finish building the school because soon, in the fall, I was supposed to start first grade.

    The school had teachers and professors with big hearts and great human qualities! I was usually among the best students in school, (even the first in my class), except for the years when my grades were lowered for misbehaviour.

    I followed with high school in Târgu Mureş, taking advantage of the re-establishment of industrial high schools, living with my aunts and later with my brother, Ilie, or, in the last year, in the high school campus. The change from village life to city life had its events, even shocks, which have strongly marked me. Adapting to city life came at a price, and I paid dearly, but, as they say, what does not kill us strengthens us. I was among the best students here as well (with the same exceptions for misbehaviour), and I studied all subjects with pleasure and in depth, from industrial classes to literature. This propelled me to contests in mathematics, physics, Romanian literature, or activities like ham radio operation, “orienteering sport”, gymnastics, and judo. So as not to burden my parents too much with the expenses for my studies, I tutored younger students or worked with my brother Ilie repairing cars. Ilie deserves a special book, a whole novel, but there’s not enough time in this interview for all the stories I could tell!

    At the end of high school, after years in which I saw my future in industry, aviation, and electronic engineering, I decided to change course. I chose astronomy and applied for admission to the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Bucharest. But astronomy ran away from me. Each year, it was moved to the next year of study, but I caught it in the final year, just for a trimester. In the meantime, I chose computer sciences, advanced study in theoretical mechanics and magneto-hydrodynamics, ending with cutting-edge research in the theory of shock waves in plasma. But it seemed that the fate of the students of my generation had already been decided. One of my teachers, Mr. Ioan Roșca, a famous mathematician and a former classmate of Doina (my sister) in Subcetate, told us at one point, “All of you will be swallowed up by computer science!”

    And so it was. I ended up at a factory called Electronica, a manufacturer of television sets, in the computer department, where my path took me from programmer to systems engineer, to team manager, and by the end, to head of the computer department.

    I forgot to say that, in my last year at university I married a Bucharest girl, Virgilia. We were colleagues. She is a math teacher, passionate about mathematics and especially passionate about teaching kids. Virgilia is the mother of my three children, Mircea, Alexandru and Ileana, who are the major achievements of our life.

    In thinking about the future, I meant to avoid certain things. I would not live in a big city, would not become the head of anything, would not live on an apartment block, would not work in industry, and would stay away from Bucharest girls. Well, it was completely futile. I did the opposite of all of them! I lived in Bucharest for 28 years, I was the boss in most of my positions, we bought an apartment in a 10-story building, I worked in industry for 24 years, and I fell in love with a Bucharest girl. Perhaps it was meant to be. Perhaps your destiny is already written, marked on your forehead!

    I had the luck of having three very special children, talented, hardworking, and intelligent. As for my profession, I had the luck to be among those chosen to lead major projects on a national scale— pioneering, I’d say.

    The first personal computer for the general public in Romania, for example, was put into production by a team I led, where my contribution was a major one, getting all the official approvals, passing through all the Communist filters, and doing the paperwork. We had to call it not a computer but, ridiculously, a “programmable device for assisted learning” because the Communist authorities did not allow ordinary citizens to have such a thing as a “computer” at home.

    I led two large information system projects, pilot projects in real-time production management, when they premiered in Romania: A German-inspired one and another designed in Romania, both implemented at the Electronica plant where I was working.

    The 1989 “revolution” (in quotes, of course!) found me on the frontlines, one of those naïve people who believed that something could change from one day to another. The events pushed me into a leadership position again. I was the one who had to do some backstage organizing for some major changes at the plant where I worked. We changed some things, we forced changes, but I realized after a while that all we’d done was to cut off the top of the iceberg. Everyone in the “Communist mafia” pyramid just moved up a level and everything was left in place. (We should call it an octopus, not a pyramid.)

    Later on, with a few collaborators, I established WDS Software House, one of the first computer firms in Bucharest. In less than a year, we built an information system for a hospital, one of the first systems on a PC network in Romania. There followed years of hard work, intensive development, business trips to customers across the country, to Constanta, Brăila, Tulcea, Galaţi, Bacău, Baia Mare, Turnu Severin, and Craiova, and then I formed a second company, and a third one. We developed computer applications in various fields, from accounting to the food industry to aircraft manufacturing.

    Our children grew up, and society evolved. The Information Technology market was still new and competition was not always fair. After a while I gave up my private enterprises and joined an insurance company as the director of their computer department.

    At one point, my second son, Alex, began to suggest that we emigrate. I did not want to at first, but I tried once and was refused. Alex continued to insist. After deeper reflection, we decided to leave, not for my wife’s and my sake, since we had already established ourselves in good careers, but to provide our children with more opportunities.

    Thus it was that on August 8, 2000 we landed in Montreal with Canadian permanent resident visas in our hands.

    Québec, Musée de la civilisation, 2006
    Québec, Musée de la civilisation, 2006

    After 10 years in Canada at the same firm, an IBM company, I decided to  return to running my own business, so I incorporated and started working as an independent consultant. I was able to gain enough North American experience to maintain a variety of clients in Canada and Europe and also obtained a few contracts for World Bank–funded projects for countries in Africa. Currently, I find myself with my own consulting firm in information technologies, plus a small music agency, providing contracts and gigs for a few musical groups.

    My family? That’s another long story… Together, scattered, partly reassembled, rebuilt in another form and broken up again, major health problems for some— fortunately resolved or almost resolved. Our children are grown up, independent, and I sometimes feel strange because nobody needs me like they used to, but that’s part of life, right? I do find, from time to time, someone who needs back-up, someone I can help; I am a kind of “life facilitator”, as they say. Some live for themselves, others are cut out to live for others and this is the way I feel good.

    DD: You exchanged the peace of a Transylvanian village for the bustle of Bucharest, and then you integrated into Canadian culture. A person’s place is where he can be natural and persuasive in everything. Similarities and differences between individuals, between cultures, bring beauty to life. Man is in a constant search, the search for the Self, and for the means to express himself. Did you find in Canada the possibilities for self-expression that you wanted?

    DLT: Expressing yourself, manifesting from within yourself, you can do that anywhere. Well, almost anywhere. What makes the difference, however, is to be able to convince some people to listen and a few to follow. Otherwise, it’s like talking to the wall or preaching in the desert.

    Every society, every culture, has both good aspects and aspects that are less good. After 1989, Romania was considered to be a new El Dorado for a certain category of businesspeople. African markets, economic booms in some African countries, created unexpected opportunities. The stability and financial strength of Europe also offered opportunities.

    Canada, and Quebec in particular, had something different to offer, in social terms: freedom of expression, openness, tolerance, multiculturalism, social stability, a good level of social services, and support for initiatives in any field. These are things we do not find in Communist cultures or in the ironically-named Balkan spirit, such as having the right to be wrong, feeling good in your own skin, having a positive outlook on life, speaking out when you have a problem rather than hiding it out of pride or for some obscure reason; and then, civilized behaviour, courtesy, volunteering, a society where “It’s not possible” isn’t often heard, less corruption, or at least less obvious general corruption, openness to the new and to knowledge.

    My daughter once missed a class. She called the teacher the next day and apologized, and the teacher said, “No problem, you have the right to miss a class or two,” and then sent her the course notes by e-mail, so that she could catch up. This tolerance, openness, and acceptance of error, of human imperfection, shows a certain level of social culture, social maturity.

    The less positive aspects of the culture are everywhere. It’s not possible not to have them. Perfection is at best a direction, never a human reality. At one point, Quebec had a political slogan saying that “being different is an asset.” Although the slogan has a political flavour and a demagogic use, a society that is able to take advantage of differences has a great advantage in accelerating its progress. We live today in what is called the “global village”, and to integrate, rather than assimilate, to create something new by merging these differences in the social melting pot without destroying the individual flavours— this is an art of contemporary social policy that few countries have. Canada possesses it, for the most part. Quebec also has it, with its peculiarities of being a French island in this North-American, English-speaking world.

    As to the place of each individual, there is a Romanian saying: “The man consecrates the place,” or, as the French say, “A good farmer makes a good farm.” Now, of course, we can argue about various points; some places are easier to “consecrate” than others.

    Concerning cultural differences and social and cultural integration, I would say that the first condition for integration is to define the socio-cultural “place where you belong”. Once again, we are talking about integration, not assimilation. This is my own opinion on integration. Others might see it differently.

    Many try to deny the past, to forget, to deny their origins, the culture in which they grew up and were shaped. I consider this to be a way of hiding an inability to be integrated into your own culture in the first place, even if the reasons and justifications for that are sometimes real.

    Never in my life have I felt so strongly, so urgently, the need to declare and define my belonging to a cultural, historical and emotional Romanian space. Living in your home country, within the culture in which you were born, you take it all for granted. You do not even think about it. You aren’t aware of it and don’t appreciate it enough. You do not even know that you have it- all these values ​​that define your own culture and ultimately yourself. But when you are opposed, faced with or placed in front of differences with other cultures, other values, other habits, when you are asked many times a day “d’où vous venez,”—where you come from—you cannot simply answer, “From Romania,” because Romania is not just a place on a map.

    You feel the need to assert your membership, to present your personal cultural offering, so that you can balance what the local culture has to offer, to prove that you bring something specific, something new, and did not come here to forget your roots and pretend that you’ve become Canadian, or Quebecois, in a few days, quickly picking up the local jargon. Perhaps it works this way also, but I felt that this would not be my way of proceeding. I can offer much more, because I’m backed up by a solid, thousand-year-old history and culture—that is, if you know that culture, if you are part of it, and do not deny it. I felt the need to fill in the lack of information, to correct false images about Romania, associated for many only with the name Nadia and with perceptions of Ceausescu, or Dracula.

    A young Romanian, a former schoolmate of Ileana’s in his late teens, won a scholarship to study in the US. In the first weeks, he said he felt a pressing need to immediately answer questions like: Who am I? Where do I come from? What am I doing here? He felt the need to define himself in relation to a new society. He began to ask for CDs, pictures, specific objects from home. He decorated the wall of his room with maps and pictures of Romania and listened to Romanian music. This is a phase of awakening, of the awareness of your own belonging to the cultural space in which you were born.

    To capitalize on cultural similarities and differences, historical traditions, and differences in customs, lifestyles, and moral values, you must first identify them ​​and accept them. Integration takes much longer for those who emigrate at an older age, and it’s a process that sometimes fails. Many remain hung up somewhere in between the two cultures, between two existential spaces, oscillating, hesitating, and sometimes no longer able to find their place in either what was or in what currently is. Others, more fortunate, have learned to find that “home place” in their soul and take it with them everywhere, no matter where they go. They are the ones who feel good, who feel like they’re at home, no matter where they are. You call them “uprooted”? Hmmm! I’d say, rather, that they are those able to take their roots with them! Lorena McKenna, in the foreword to her album The Visit, says something like, “Life is like visiting. And when you are visiting someone’s house, you should know who you are, where you live, and what you do, and pay attention to what impressions and memories you leave behind.” You care about the person you are. We are, generally speaking, visitors in this life, in this world, but applied to the immigrant condition, with a change in countries. That need for self-identification and self-awareness, (“la conscience du soi” (fr), « conștiința de sine » (ro)) is much stronger. We know where we come from, where we are, what we seek, and what we do. If you make from this a way of life, without tension, effortlessly and naturally, you will feel “at home” anywhere. There may be people who do not feel comfortable “visiting” because they perceive some constraints, and this destroys or alters, most often unconsciously, the beauty of humanity. What can I say? Each one feels good in his own element: fish feel good in the water, birds in the air … You can continue with some bi/quadrupeds and understand what I mean.

    Where do I feel the best? Is that what you wanted to ask me? The answer is: among people. Yes, among people.

    DD: What is your life besides family and profession? What do you enjoy, what are you passionate about?

    DLT: I am passionate about people, first and foremost. I am fascinated by their individuality, uniqueness, and personalities, their culture, history, and individual values, how they evolve in response to the challenges and trials life brings. I’ve had the chance to meet many people, around the globe, very different people, and I was lucky enough to gather a few valuable ones amongst those whom I consider my closest friends. Soul friends. It is interesting to learn, in 10 minutes, the life story of a taxi driver, who was a horticultural engineer; or, in a few hours on a plane, the life story of a girl, a beautiful girl, used by smugglers to transport jewellery; or, in a work week with a mixed team of experts, the story of each- one from the Canary Islands, another an Arab living in Ontario, another Senegalese living in Quebec, or a former African prime minister and expert in poverty reduction programs.

    It’s exciting to learn about them also through the languages they speak. I have played, let’s say, with languages: a year of Russian, retaken at university because you could easily find books translated into Russian; French for 12 years; some English, which I’ve been polishing lately with my family; one year of studying Arabic; Hungarian, which I learned in high school so I could impress a girl with long love letters; German, which I practiced a little in the nineties, while doing some business in Germany; and I can read and write Greek.

    Language defines people. Their personalities and mental constructions are built around linguistic elements. My stepdaughter, Ariane, was born into a bilingual family, and you could say she has two different personalities: one when she’s in a French environment and speaks French, (Quebec dialect, of course!), and a different one when she’s in the English-speaking world.

    For pleasure, and to gather together a diverse group of people, we used to have periodic gatherings, for example, once a month, holding a small party in a space made available to us by Mr. Radu Jorj, a Romanian “vigneron” or vintner, one of the best in Quebec, the owner at the time of the oldest vineyard in Quebec, one of those exceptional people I had the chance to meet and become friends with. We gathered around the table: Europeans, North Americans, Africans, Quebec residents, or visitors. These meetings brought us great intellectual satisfaction.

    Yes, social and cultural diversity and diverse origins are interesting, enriching, but it depends on how and to what end they are used. In preparing a TV show, a Romanian director from Toronto once launched a discussion on Facebook with the question, “How much can we accept compromises with or breaches of our own values in order to integrate into a society whose values we do not completely share?” How we make our incompatibility compatible and reach a “modus vivendi” in this amalgam of cultural, religious, social, and moral values? This discussion could go on and on, from the extremes of isolation that may result in small communities, to the abandonment of integration, to the terminological and factual invention of what some Quebec politicians call “reasonable accommodation”. Is this humour, or drama?

    Otherwise, as to my interests, my family comes first, then my profession, but I have many other interests, from music to gardening, from travel to cultivating flowers, from taking pictures to spending time in the company of interesting people in interesting discussions, generating new intellectual perspectives.

    I do follow the evolution of the virtual world and what is happening on the Internet. It’s fascinating to discover how people adapt and reinvent themselves, their relationships, their socializing, their individual personalities, everything, including love, including crime, including poetry, including lifestyles. Everything is reinvented in this virtual space without limits.

    I like “tinkering”, handcrafting things. I am a blacksmith’s son, right? Doing repairs around the house or in electronics, carpentry, or car repairs, inventing and building things, designing all kinds of stuff, or just let the mind run-on.. It does not matter what. And there are always plenty of things to do.

    I would love to have the time and the calm to write. I am in a hurry all the time. You see it even here in my writing style, no? It’s too busy, too condensed. The text doesn’t breathe, does it, Doina?

    Maybe I should retire? I don’t think I can see myself in that role!

    DD: Music is a balm for the soul. Is music a way to get closer to God? Your son, Mircea, is passionate about music. The two of you have created “Valuri de Mătase” project, a source of enjoyment for many of us. Tell us about this project!

    DLT: Yes, it’s a duo on flute and electric guitar, Terry Ellen Christophersen and Mircea Trifan, from Quebec. This is a special and unique chapter in my life, following my artistic interests. I remember, far, far back in time, at a student show in the sixties, in Topliţa, an accordion duo who came on stage at one point, Doiniţa Dobreanu and Dănuţ Trifan. Do you remember?

    All during college, I was interested in interdisciplinary studies, mathematics and music. I did take a year of courses in harmony and counterpoint at the Music Conservatory, along with my studies in mathematics.

    Valuri de Matase
    Valuri de Matase
    A year's day
    A year’s day

    But besides that, and besides listening, consuming music in the most common way, I had no major involvement with music. The story began in Quebec, with the one who became my life partner for a while, a professional musician, a flutist, passionate and open to new experiences. With her ​​and Mircea, my son, a musician himself, we launched the Valuri de Mătase (“Silky Waves”) project around 2003 or 2004. The basic idea, the artistic concept behind the project, was to go back in time to the period where the ancestors of today’s Romanians and the Celts met. The two cultures crossed paths over time. The Celts, who until 400 BC were in Europe, (you can see their influences in the ancient Hallstatt culture in Austria), crossed the Dacian area at some point. They were chased away, from what history tells us, by Burebista, King of the Getae and the Dacians. Then, after 400 BC, they began their migration to England, leaving the continent. Their culture did not leave any written traces, only influences. Celtic cultural elements remained in the cultures through which they passed. There are common elements, for example, in old Romanian and Celtic music, and in the group Valuri de Mătase, the two musicians have incorporated these common elements in their style, in selecting songs, making arrangements, and interpretation. The group produced two albums, Valuri de Mătase and A Year’s Day, which are registered in the Library and Archives of Canada as part of Canadian cultural heritage.

    Being involved in Quebec’s Romanian community for a while, I became an artistic director and producer of shows, work which gave me great pleasure. Working with artists, these outstanding, tempestuous, impetuous personalities, is always challenging, but it’s a privilege at the same time. Collaborations with dozens of Romanian artists, from Quebec or elsewhere, on stage next to artists from Quebec, brought an enormous spiritual enrichment to the city. The artists had the opportunity to discover each other, and all of us were pleased to see that music can be a universal language, transcending all differences.

    If you visit the websites www.valuridematase.com and www.tridamusic.com, or  related websites, you will discover interesting things about these artistic interests. Since 2004, we have played shows all across Quebec: outdoors, in cathedrals, at libraries and parties, at public concerts, at museums, on radio stations, at festivals, or in promotional displays at malls. With the various groups of musicians and their guest artists, we’ve accomplished a lot, at the price of a huge effort, but it was worth it.

    Currently, my little agency represents several groups of musicians, including Mircea’s current group, Melão International, which plays Latin music. I took intensive salsa lessons in the summer of 2013 so I could enjoy their music from the front as well as behind the scenes as a manager or cameraman.

    Does music bring us closer to divinity? Life, our existential space, presents each one of us, if we are able to discern it, to grasp it, with the whole range of possibilities in terms of spiritual experiences. Everything that could exist as individual choices, as options, as ways of acting, as faith, as feeling, from our pragmatic daily routines, where we are confronted with dull (but sometimes difficult) day-to-day problems, tedious but necessary, from compensating for our shortcomings to the times when we are moved to more spiritual experiences, spiritual areas, and emotional spaces. It’s up to us to realize that we have these possibilities, to seize them, and to walk in one direction or another. It is about not letting ourselves be marked, defined, or limited by what happens to us every day, in our imposed rounds. Music can be a means of taking a spiritual journey through time and space, if it is seen and used as such and not just “consumed”. So it is meditation and prayer, as well as art. The crystalline sound of the flute and the deep, full sound of the guitar chords, the vocal inflections of a liturgical choir in a cathedral, or an ancestral carol sung a cappella and echoing from an altar—all of these can open unsuspected spiritual spaces for anyone’s soul.

    At our church in Quebec, we were lucky to have for a while as our choir conductor a great person, a great talent, who took simple amateurs like me and the other members of our choir and produced a concert in a cathedral that brought the audience to tears. I do listen from time to time to the recordings we’ve made of concerts on similar occasions. Yes, I can say that music can transport you. It can help reveal and uncover feelings and emotions that you did not previously even know that you were able to have.

    At the time when I translate and publish the English and French versions of this interview, I’d say the answer to this question could be given by Alex, my second son. Kundalini yoga instructor and practitioner, and musician, he integrated yoga and music wholly, where divinity, beauty, humanity and man himself become a full, celebrating harmony, oneness and eternity of life. Also Ileana, my daughter, whose spiritual experiences have passed, in a time, over spaces where boundaries between the imaginary and real, divine and diabolical, material and spiritual were diluted to the point to allow impossible coexistences into a world where music can become bivalent within the duality (or oneness?) sacred-satanic. Alex says: There is no hate and love. There is only love.

    Does music bring us closer to God? Or, I wonder whether we find Him, surprising and surprisingly close, right next to us, inside us, in our hearts, where he was and is all the time.

    DD: Travels nourish our soul, and you have had the chance to travel. What is the most wonderful place that you’ve seen and what do you want to see in the future?

    Ouagadougou, 2007
    Ouagadougou, 2007

    DLT: Each place is special. Everything in this world is worth seeing. Each location brings us spiritual and cultural enrichment, through the people who live there and through their achievements. Bucharest, Cluj, Constanţa, Timişoara, Iași, or any village in Romania—they all look as interesting to me as the large cities of the world: Paris, London, Frankfurt, Berlin, Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Lausanne, Havana, Toronto, Boston, Montreal, Ouagadougou, Kigali, or Nairobi, or any lost village, dans la brousse, in the scrubland of Africa, or the small chic towns in Bretagne, or the chains of towns and castles on the tops of the mountains along the valley of the Rhine. I like traveling, especially in the company of special people. What you cannot share has no value.

    Some images in my memory have a stronger impact and are more significant than others. I remember seeing Ouagadougou from the hotel
    window. On the right side was the hotel courtyard, luxurious, modern, clean, with swimming pools; on the other side of the cement wall was red dirt, with garbage all around, with some homeless people sitting under a tree—two faces of the same city.

    I still have plenty of places I want to visit: South America, Asia, Oceania, and Russia. I still have a lot to see even in Romania and in Europe.

    DD: What childhood dreams have you achieved?

    DLT: Oh, childhood dreams! So many that I would have to live much more than one life even to try to achieve them! Achievements? Well, I launched three children into the world. I have contributed and still contribute to some other people’s successes in life; I am what is called a “life facilitator” for many people. I traveled. I became a professional with an international reputation, (some say), but I have not yet flown the glider I built inside the house. I did not get to be an aviator, nor an airplane builder. However, Mircea is an aerospace engineer! I did not get to express myself freely through music. I can play the piano and guitar a little, but my children, Mircea, Alex, Ileana, and Ariane, make music with a vengeance. I did not learn to draw or paint, but Ileana does it. I still have not found antigravity’s secrets. I still have not written a book…

    This is not related to childhood dreams, but the biggest thing I have left undone in life, the thing I wish I could’ve done better, is that I wish I had been closer to my parents when they were alive, closer to my brothers and sister, and to our native places. It’s one of the greater pains that I carry.

    I do not think I have achieved exceptional things.

    It puzzles me even now that you’ve selected me for your book, along with people with more prestigious accomplishments, people of great talent who have made major contributions in the social, cultural, scientific, artistic, and literary domains.

    DDYou want to seem modest, but you are a special person, and I thank you for agreeing to talk to us so sincerely, with such warmth and joy and with your fascinating personality. Thank you for the opportunity you give us to enrich ourselves with your depth of feeling and thought.

    DLT: I see my achievements as normal. Even my mistakes have been normal. Without my mistakes, I could probably have done much more, but I would not have learned so much. I just went down the path that life placed in front of me, making sure at the crossroads, at the intersections, not to take a path that was not suited to me, in a direction that might adversely affect the others.

    DD: Is everything you’ve done so far due to a particular creed?

    DLT: A “credo” … I don’t know what to say. It’s too much. A “creed” requires a bit of fanaticism, a little involuntary blindness, a little existential restriction. I am rather, I think, an experimenter, someone who likes to play with borders, with ideas, with his own limits. The obstacles and the barriers are simply challenges for people like me.

    But what I did try to follow in life, what I have tried to live by all the time, and what could be considered a belief in a way, is what my father, a Transylvanian man by definition, once told me: “Whatever you do in life, do it well!”

    But you haven’t asked me about my future plans. Why not?

    DD: With much love, I will, then. I invite you to talk about them, if you please!

    DTL: Well, since you’ve asked me so insistently, I’ll answer you.

    First, I would like to have grandchildren. It is not up to me; you say? Yes, that’s right, but I like to have little children around. They fill the house, the soul, the life.

    There are a few continents I have yet to see, many people I do not yet know. There are also a few people around me who need me for a while longer, until they can get on their own feet.  After that, who knows?

    I plan to come home more often. That is, to one of my “at home”. To Subcetate.

    I plan to start writing. Not about my memories, I say I’m too young for that. Some prose and some love poetry. Sometimes love has thorns, and here I’m plagiarising a bit the work of our friend Mitică Hurubă.

    I do plan to keep taking Latin dance classes.

    I also have a more practical plan: I arranged a large garden, a new one, where I can plant vegetables, flowers, and blackcurrants, from which Mircea will help me make wine, from Dad’s recipe, modified a bit. Mine is closer to ice wine or to port wine.

    Professionally speaking, I would like to go back to studying. You can be a student here in Quebec at any age. I have in mind some interesting research I’d like to do on subjects like antigravity, algorithm-based music composition, and shock waves in plasma.

    And I plan to continue to ask myself questions without answers, some of them nonsense-like: What am I doing in this world? Why do roses have thorns? Why does love hurt? Did anyone, thousands of years ago, ever use the Big Dipper to carry the hay home? How can longing be so sweet? How is it that one can fall in love with the loam, the earth? Why can I never hate? Why do I get hurt so deeply by insincerity and dishonesty? And what was my mother’s big secret, the one that enabled her to be always at peace with herself and with the entire universe, even when she had to suffer?

    DD: God give you health and time to enjoy the successes you wish for, keep your mind sparkling with enjoyment of the theater of life, with still so many mysteries, and may you live happily ever after!

    I am very, very anxious to see your first book! See you in Subcetate—much more often! 
    __________________________________________________________________

    Convorbiri la Subcetate
    Convorbiri la Subcetate
    Convorbiri la Subcetate
    Convorbiri la Subcetate

    Published by Doinita-Ana Dobreanu in “Life at Subcetate”, City Council and City Hall’s magazine, published under supervision of teachers from “Miron Cristea” College, ISSN 2343 – 8215; L ISSN 2343 – 8215, January 2015

    Dan Lazăr Trifan is an mathematician, Senior International IT Consultant, born in Subcetate, Romania, living in Quebec, Canada