Who would have thought that the owner of the small Londophone pub, in the basement of an apartment building near Cişmigiu, wasn’t British? The truth is that he is part of the new minority here in Bucharest, however not from the British one, but from the Moldovian one. Vlad Bolocan is a young man of 34 years old who studied journalism in Chişinău, after which he settled in Bucharest, where he feels at home. He owns Londophone for five years now, where he organizes exhibitions, launches and other events with a single purpose: that of “living nicely and wisely”.
Interview by Iulia Stiru and Elena Gudumac within the anthropological research “New minorities in Bucharest municipality”
Londophone is perceived as a socializing place, not just a place for drinking beer, and Vlad became convinced of that thanks to the telephone calls of those interested in the events before making a reservation. He owns the bar for five years now and is the only investor: “The idea was my own. All this business was an accident. The owners of this local struggled to rent the space and my old boss was acquainted with the owners. It was a derelict space. My former boss at the company where I worked was a friend of the owners of this space, he helped me start my business, that is, to open the pub. They helped me to some extent in the beginning and along the way they lost interest while I stayed”.
Vlad settled in Bucharest in 2004, having already traveled a lot throughout Romania. His first visit to Romania was in 1999, for the eclipse. Then he graduated journalism in Chişinău and got involved in various projects in the region. Why did he choose Bucharest? “Because here they speak my language. I really like Bucharest, even though I was very much criticized, and even with all this criticism Bucharest is marked by tolerance. I do not think there is a more tolerant city in Romania that Bucharest. It is a very miserable city but at the same time it has some wonderful areas which enlighten it. It’s up to you what kind of man you are, if you like to live in misery you will live in it, but if you like living in those beautiful islands, then you will live together with big souls,” says Vlad. With both its goods and bads, Bucharest is now his home: “I don’t see myself as a tourist. I live here, this is my home”.
Vlad explains the difference between Chişinău and Bucharest with a joke: “It’s the joke with the Bessarabian at the disco: He was arguing with someone there and the Romanian says to him let’s go out and once out the Bessarabian turns and punches the Romanian in the nose. And the latter says: Well lad, don’t you know to speak? (he laughs). This is an anthropological joke on the understanding difference. In Chişinău this means let’s go outside, followed by a fight and then the one who is faster gives the first punch, and in Bucharest the idea is to go out and talk. Speaking of tolerance. Bucharest is a very safe city, people try to solve the situation amicably, rarely reaching to violence.”
The young Moldavian has both Romanian and Moldavian friends, but not the ethnic criteria has brought them closer, but things like going to the seaside, birthdays and other parties. He never felt discriminated, everything was limited to small jokes or unkindness. In the beginning of his stay in Bucharest, he immediately adapted to the standard Romanian accent, maybe even a little embarrassed, but soon he relaxed and began speaking again with a slight Moldavian accent.
People who come at Londophone are of all kinds. “Moldavians come as long as Moldavians here in Bucharest come. The pub is not related to the Republic of Moldova or with friends of mine … I never ever thought of targeting this audience. There are events in relation to the Republic of Moldova, but I do not favor nor try to do this”, says Vlad.
One of the most interesting events that took place in Londophone is a “Bessarabian” one, namely the game CUC (What Where When), a game on Romanian language initiated by Marcel Spatari, in Chişinău, around 2000. Marcel took this game with him everywhere he went, including in Bucharest. “It is a game of the ’80s. There are teams, a question is asked that they must debate, and after 1 minute the team must come up with an answer. The questions are based on general knowledge. It helps you greatly to develop your general knowledge, but the general culture is not the core, but the core is logic. You need not know anything, because the question is asked so that you can figure out the right answer from the question. This is more or less the charm of the game, it’s not very simple, but not very complicated either. This distinguishes it from other clubs and makes it present all over the world”, explains Vlad.
Vlad lives in Cişmigiu area, the same area of his bar, but he stayed so far in studios in Dristor and Militari. At his begining here in Bucharest he received the famous „package from home” and was mostly enthusiastic about the bread. Now the goodies he expectes along with his mother’s visit are „the Opera pies”.
Vlad, have you ever considered moving to the Western Europe?
Vlad: No. Maybe for a person who would endeavor becoming a very good doctor, programmer, billionaire, that person should probably go to a West European country. In a West European country the system is different, one that allows people to develop in these conditions, but this is not my case. I feel very well here where I am.