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I would say I finish 95% of the books I start BUt this one didn t make the cut I picked it up because it was about the Balkans and Eastern Europe my favourite places Further, the overarching theme, the second hand europe, that is not really Europe a land that frightens most, that is whispered by Westerners with a certain cautionary toneas the place to travel I understand how the writer might have wanted to have written this book in such a confusing manner because we, Eastern EUropeans, are as confused as this book However, I believe that this book, at least according to its Romanian cover, does not deliver what it promises On the road to Babadag does not make me want to just pick up my backpack and my tent and just set out to know the least traveled to destinations of this Europe, my part of Europe but it makes me want to put out the book and if anything try and write one myself Which in the end I guess it is also a productive feeling you can get from a book Maybe the best of them all. Seemed like a 10 page essay that became a 250 page book through repetition repetition and repetition This is a po mo travel book travel without identifying context, just an endless list of Eastern European place names obscure enough to make you feel at first ashamed of your own ignorance and finally simply annoyed at the repeated refusal to communicate anything that would help us place these places Travel that loses any purpose bc all the places are the same, simply names The sense of poverty, decay and stasis comes through loud and clear, but little else does the narrator fetishizes his own imprecision and inability to remember, which on the page becomes frustrating vagueness and for me at least, an inability to care about what he s saying The occasional hallucinatorily brilliant vignette the pool party for Romania s jeunesse doree as seen through the eyes of the local filthy feral pig farmer tells you that there was a conventionally fascinating travel book to be had here, if only Stasiuk weren t far too cool to write it As it was, I forced myself, barely, to finish. I would like to be buried in all those places where I ve been before and will be again My head among the green hills of Zempl n, my heart somewhere in Transylvania, my right hand in Chornohora, my left in Spi sk Bel , my sight in Bukovina, my sense of smell in R inari, my thoughts perhaps in this neighborhood This is how I imagine the night when the current roars in the dark and the thaw wipes away the white stains of snow. This is the colorful, often poetic prose of a seasoned traveler who loves to bypass the tourist hype and seek the unknown Busses, trucks, trains and walking, take him on the than 200 trips into the countries of his soul In a bleak landscape filled with debris of war and wasteland, he finds the colorful people in their picturesque environment, writing the history of the geographical wonderland he comes across Different languages reside next to each other,and in between Russian is still a nostalgic remnant of a recent past Horse carts with number plates share roads with rustic old cars The people are as ignorant of happiness as they are of the future.I tried to follow the author by Googling his route, which resulted in a longer read than actually planned It nevertheless opened a world to me that was previously just a blur of possibilities, initiatated by images portrayed in travel programs and limited information provided in news programs We are spurred by the desire to return to the world of dreams, which relieves us of our freedom of will and gives in its place the freedom, absolute, of the unexpected This happens in places rarely touched by the traveler s eye Observation irons out objects and landscapes Destruction and decline follow The world gets used up, like an old abraded map, from being seen too muchThe old looks bedraggled, cast off, impotent the new struts and challenges, wanting to overcome both the shame of the past and the fear of the future Everything is temporary, ad hoc, a verb whose action is never completedClearly I am drawn to decline, decay, to everything that is not as it could or should be Whatever stops in half stride because it lacks the strength or will or imagination to continue Whatever gives in, gives up, does not last, and leaves no trace Whatever in its passing stirs no regret or reminiscence The present imperfect Histories that live no longer than the relating of them, objects that are only when someone regards them This is what haunts me this extra being that everyone can do without, this superfluity that is not wealth, this hiddenness that no one explores, secrets that, ignored, are lost forever, memory that consumes itself. The Balkan States of Eastern Europe are the author s playground, which he visits as often as possible The small villages on the map disappears as the ink fades, but in reality they also vanish as fast as the political landscape changes That s why I rush to make these trips, why I m so avid for details that will soon vanish and need to be re created out of words Unpronouncable, exotic, names are scattered over his journey Nagyk ll , M t szalka, Nagyk ll , G nc , Kamenice, Vidice, Selenice, Borove, Chi in uNobody believes in tomorrow The here and now simply do not show any signs that it will be different from yesterday In the square, an air of indifferent symbiosis Everyone was connected by a time that had to be waited through Seconds and minutes grew, swelled, and burst open, but there was nothing inside. The book is a confusing read if you try to track his route The author recalls his past experiences of places when he visited them in different seasons, some of them many years previously and that confuses the reader a bit.Yet, his memories are colorful, often satirical and generously covered by irony He shares his philosophies and anecdotes and although he finds little reason for optimism he is still infatuated with a region that he deeply loves He does not hesitate to call a spade a spade, and does not try to hide his observations of the villages he visits Parody and delirium One must be born in Hu i to smell the poison of melancholy that eats into mind and soul One must be born in Hu i, where even the crows turn back, to grasp this dream of glory of the native land, to understand this nightmareSo that was Chi in u I spent many hours under an umbrella in Green Hills Nistru on the Boulevard of Stephen the Great and Holy, at the corner of Eminescu In the pub sat a international gathering, speaking in English and German Probably office workers who had chosen to throw away their European and American money in this particular spot Besides them was the growing Moldovan middle class, the men wearing gold, sporting sunglasses, in the common style that combines hood, pimp, and gigolo, the women like the women you see on television, practically all with cell phones on silver chains around their necks. It is not an exciting, fast paced read, but it sure is entertaining Apart from having proper guide books visiting these areas, a book like this one, will relieve the boredom of long train rides or futile hours waiting at a border crossing It might even make you smile But just reading the book on its own merit guarantees a refreshing look on a world we hardly know I certainly enjoyed this introduction by this author to his region, where ancient cultures, hundreds of years old, still prevailed, where man and beast never lost their bond, and an industrial revolution ended in rust heaps as man made as its dark history At times it was too much, but most of the time I was amazed. Das ist das wahre Gesicht meiner Gegend, meines Teils des Kontinents die Ver nderung, die nichts ver ndert, die Bewegung, die sich in sich selbst ersch pft Unterwegs nach Babadagist eine weitere Station auf Andrzej Stasiuks endloser literarischer Reise durch die Terra incognita des europ ischen Ostens Die Orte und Gegenden die er durchstreift liegen meist unterhalb der Wahrnehmungsschwelle der durchschnittlichen Mitteleurop er Gegenden in denen die Zeit scheinbar stehengeblieben ist, gepr gt von Stagnation und allm hlichem Verfall L k sh za, Baia Mare, R inari, Soko w, Podlaski, Hu i, G nc, Sulina Orte mit Namen die in der Fantasie des Fremden der sie h rt, einen Raum voller Verhei ungen er ffnen, weil sich in der konkreten Vorstellung so rein gar nichts mit ihnen verbinden l sst Orte deren Bewohner in ewiger Wartestellung ausharren, auf eine Zukunft hoffend, die niemals kommen wird Stasiuk erweist sich bei seiner rastlosen Suche als unheilbarer Romantiker, angetrieben von einer unstillbaren Sehnsucht ohne rechtes Ziel Seine Berichte sind Sammlungen von Bruchst cken, Erinnerungsfetzen, Fieberphantasien, aus denen er sich in der R ckschau seine Welt zusammensetzt Der AusdruckMeditation in Bewegungf llt an einer Stelle besser l sst sich nicht benennen, wovon dieses Buch handelt Gleichsam einem sich stetig wiederholenden Ritual folgend, bricht der Autor immer wieder aufs Neue in das europ ische Niemandsland zwischen polnischer Ostseek ste und albanischen Bergen auf Daraus ergeben sich unvermeidlich einige Redundanzen in seinen Erz hlungen So kommt es vor, dass Orte und Begebenheiten mehrmals in ver nderter Form in den Texten auftauchen Bei manchen Lesern wird sich vermutlich dadurch ein Eindruck von Langeweile aufdr ngen, was nachvollziehbar w re Allerdings macht f r mich genau dieser meditative Stil den besonderen Reiz an Stasiuks Reiseberichten aus Sie versetzen in eine Stimmungslage, in der man nur allzu gern bereit w re, sich dem Autor anzuschlie en, um sich in der Tiefe der Provinz zu verlieren. Volim, dakle, taj balkanski kupleraj, madjarski, slovacki i poljski, tu cudesnu tezu materije, tu prekrasnu snenost, tu iskuliranost cinjenica, to mirno, doslijedno pijanstvo tacno u podne i te maglovite poglede koji bez muke krstare kroz stvarnost, da bi, liseni straha, pustili nistavilu da pukne pred ocima Nista tu ne mogu Srce moje Evrope kuca u Sokolovu Podlaskom i u Husiju Ni pod razno ne kuca ono u Becu Ko drugacije misli obicna je budala Pa ni u Budimpresti Ponajvise ne kuca u Krakovu Sve su to neuspjeli pokusaji transplantacije Lifting i ogledalo neceg sto je negdje drugdje Sokolov i Husi nista ne oponasaju Ostvaruju se sopstvenom sudbinom.Meni je ovo bilo carobno Jedan tako lirski putopis i prvi tog tipa koji citam Definitivno bih mogla da zamislim nekog da ovo cita i uzdise od dosade, ali isto tako ima i nas koji valjda dosta slicno Stasjuku poimamo svijet oko sebe, pa se tu negdje i pronalazimo.Stasjuk je putnik koji je svjestan svog nagona prema provinciji i svoje perverzne ljubavi prema svemu sto iscezava i propada Zaintresovan samo za zemlje o kojima se malo zna ili u koje malo ko zalazi, od skoro 200 pecata koliko ima u pasosu za samo nekoliko godina, mnogi pripadaju Poljskoj, Slovackoj, Madjarskoj, Rumuniji, Moldaviji, Albaniji Mnoge stvari po ovim zabacenim predjelima ujedno i postoje i ne postoje Niti su sasvim mrtve, niti bas zive Kao da materija oponasa svijet duhova.Ima vise opisa koji lirski nadasve savrseno prikazuju stanje stvari, i ne mogu da izdrzim a da ih ne podjelim Jer Albainija je stara Njena ljepota priziva u sjecanje davno izumrle vrste i epohe koje za sobom nisu ostavile nikakve sile Pejzaz opstojava, ali se i neprestano kruni, raspada se, kao da nebo i vazduh hoce da ga razdrobe medju prstima To su naprsline, linije, pukotine i neprekidno gravitiranje materije koja zeli da je ostave na miru, da se ratosilja forme, da doceka odmor i vrati se u vrijeme kad oblici nisu ni postojali. Gagauzija Tesko je opisati Komrat, jer je slabo uocljiv Putujes kroz grad koji jedva vidis Postoje kuce, postoje ulice, ali to su samo projekti, jedva oblikovan provizorijum, tuga materije koja se stvrdla na pola puta do ostvarenja, iscrpla se upola oblika Lenjinov spomeniik bio je prevucen zlatnom farbom. To je bila moja Rumunija to trenutno bratstvo mercedesa, zlata, svinjskog smrada i tragicnog industrijalstva cija se zapustenost mogla ravnati samo s njenom golemijom U Sfantu George sve je moglo da se desi Postoje mjesta u kojima ne postoji nista vise od potencijala A ovdje je doista jedini izlaz moglo da bude cudo, znak, iznenadno otkrivenje Vakuum, nepomicnost, horor nestajanja, tuga stihija obikovanih u geometriju ravni, nebo i zemlja koji melju medju sobom napaceno i tromo covjecanstvo sve to samo po sebi bilo je cudo i znak, posto je zaustavljalo mastu napola koraka, stavljajuci na njeno mjesto neumoljivu stvarnost. A strange little book Since the author jumped around a lot, I gave myself permission to read it randomly I was mostly interested in what he experienced in Hungary, so I searched out those sections first, came across a passage, which I will quote in full, because it gets to the quirky loveliness of Stasiuk s writing Nothing in Talkib nya, a village that hadn t changed in a hundred years Wide, scattered houses under fruit trees The walls a sulfurous, bilious yellow, the wood carving deep brown, the door frames sculpted, the shutters and verandas enduring in perfect symbiosis with the heavy, Baroque abundance of the gardens The metaphor of settling and taking root appeared to have taken shape here in an ideal way Not one new house, yet also not one old house in need of repair or renovation Although we were the only foreigners, we drew no stares From the stop, in the course of the day, four buses departed Time melted in the sunlight around noon, it grew still In the inn, men sat from the morning on and without haste sipped their palinka and beer in turn The bartender immediately knew I was a Slav and said, pouring, dobre and na zdorovye It was one of those places where you feel the need to stay but have no reason to Everything exactly as it should be and no one raising a voice or making an unnecessarily abrupt movement On a slope above the village, the white of a cemetery From windows of homes, the smell of stewing onions In market stalls, mounds of melons, paprikas A woman emerged from a cellar with a glass jug filled with wine But we left Telkib nya eventually, because nothing ends a utopia quicker than the desire to hold on to it.The entire book is like this, from what I can tell not sure I read it all since I approached it so unsystematically , and it made me want to travel the way he does Whimsical, receptive, his romantic tendencies are leavened with a dark Eastern European sensibility that I found irresistible. Jestem tak zachwycona, e p ki co nie wiem jak ubra to w s owa. If you enjoy reading about crumbling stucco, peeling paintwork, places forgotten by time and the outside world, the backwaters of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, byways hidden by mist, melancholia, ferries to nowhere, drinking in forlorn bars, decay, the detritus of post communism, village squares overgrown with untended trees, and sleepy border crossings, then this might be the book for you All of these things and others dealt with by the Stasiuk, the author, fascinate me, but somehow his book did not grab my attention as tightly as I hoped that it would.Is Stasiuk s writing poetry, or is it prose that is on the point of becoming poetry Or, is it an almost meaningless ramble of words trying to evoke the meaning of memory Whatever it is, one must take one s hat off to the translator, whose task of bringing this text from Polish into English must have been difficult And, what a ramble this is Stasiuk s memories drift from one place to another often without any discernible geographic logic The exceptions are the chapters on Albania and Moldovar, which I enjoyed most Even if this book is not my favourite, it certainly captures the decaying atmosphere of the lesser visited corners of Eastern and South Eastern Europe, places that time and the outside world almost neglect Every now and then, Stasiuk makes reference to the Romanian writer Emil Cioran 1911 1995 , whom I had never heard of before According to an article in Wikipedia, many of his works express torment, pessimism, and a tragic sense of history These are some of the aspects of the places that fascinate Stasiuk, although I felt that he conveys a far optimistic appraisal of the forgotten corners of the fringes of Europe that he visited This book was recommended to me by a friend Would I recommend it I am not sure If you can read fast, which I cannot, then give it a try If you are a slow reader, then give it a miss.I have rated this book 3 stars, but I would have liked to have been able to award it, say, 2.75 I almost liked it, but not quite Maybe the geographic confusion was a little too much for me I would have preferred a slightly linear set of journeys However, as a a literary evocation of the randomness of the memory process, the author has succeeded If you enjoy the works of W.G Sebald, then it is likely that this book by Stasiuk will be up your street. On the Road to Babadag won all possible awards in Poland and for a while it was all everybody was reading and talking about So imagine my disappointment when I started reading it and all I wanted to do was to hurl it against the wall It s because I thought this would be a travel book I thought Stasiuk would leave some small town in Poland and go through Slovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria etc until finally he would reach Babadag, Romania where the book would end It is called On the Road to Babadag Travels in the Other Europe, after all So what else should I expect I thought Stasiuk would tell me some funny anecdotes I expected some musing over the cultural differences between here and there I thought it would be like Michael Palin s New Europe only written from a perspective of someone actually from that New Europe.It is not really like that at all This book is just pure poetry and you have to accept that to be able to read it As soon as you do, you will embark on a journey that s one of a kind Stasiuk s accounts of his travels are non linear, context free, often confusing, full of maybes and perhaps but what they never lack of is beauty Even if he is fixated on the subject of animal excrement, he produces the most lyrical description of cow s shit Travelling for Stasiuk is not caused by the typical wanderlust It s of a strong urge to be in the here and now He writes when describing a trip he took in Poland before the borders opened I had no passport then, of course, but it never entered my head to try to get one The connection between those two words, freedom and passport, sounded grand enough but was completely unconvincing The nuts and bolts of passport didn t fit freedom at all It s possible that there, outside Gorz w, my mind had fixed on the formula There s freedom or there isn t, period My country suited me just fine, because its borders didn t concern me I lived inside it, in the centre, and that centre went where I went This obsession with here and now is obvious throughout the book because Stasiuk s descriptions are often careless when it comes to detail and context He disarmingly admits he doesn t remember where this happened or when, or whether it happened at all He can only offer a collection of impressions, smells, sounds and sights, maybe a nameless person here and there, some sliver of a dialogue.He stays clear of big cities and famous landmarks He explores the backwater and laments its disappearance He does get high on poverty and destitution You almost get the impression he is offended by every new ATM or internet caf which sprouts up in the villages he so fondly remembered to be completely free of any 21st century influence He wouldn t be the first and won t be the last travel writer to fetishise backwardness We have to forgive him for that because he writes it all so beauitifullyAt the same hour, in that same dying light, cattle were coming home from Kiev, say, to Split, from my Rozpucie to Skopje, and the same in Stara Zagora Scenery and architecture may change, and the breed, and the curve of horn or the colour of mane, but the picture remains untouched between two rows of houses moved a herd sated cattle They were accompanied by women in kerchiefs and worn boots, or by children No isolated island of industrialization, no sleepless metropolis, no spiderweb of roads or railroad lines, could block out this image as old as the world The human joined with the bestial to wait out the night togetherOn the Road to Babadag is a lyrical journey through the provinces of Europe and through its subconscious To Stasiuk that Europe is all that there is, that s the centre of his universe, it s where the heart of Europe beats Thanks to that we are spared witty jibes and superfluous comparisons between East and West. ^DOWNLOAD KINDLE ⇲ Jada̜c do Babadag ↞ Andrzej Stasiuk Is A Restless And Indefatigable Traveler His Journeys Take Him From His Native Poland To Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Albania, Moldova, And Ukraine By Car, Train, Bus, Ferry To Small Towns And Villages With Unfamiliar Sounding Yet Strangely Evocative Names The Heart Of My Europe, Stasiuk Tells Us, Beats In Sokolow, Podlaski, And In Husi, Not In Vienna Where Did Moldova End And Transylvania Begin, He Wonders As He Is Being Driven At Breakneck Speed In An Ancient Audi Loose Wires Hanging From The Dashboard By A Driver In Shorts And Bare Feet, A Cross Swinging On His Chest In Comrat, A Funeral Procession Moves Slowly Down The Main Street, The Open Coffin On A Pickup Truck, An Old Woman Dressed In Black Brushing Away The Flies Above The Face Of The Deceased On To Soroca, A Baroque Byzantine Tatar Turkish Encampment, To Meet Gypsies And All The Way To Babadag, Between The Baltic Coast And The Black Sea, Where Stasiuk Sees His First Minaret, Simple And Severe, A Pencil Pointed At The Sky A Brilliant Tour Of Europe S Dark Underside Travel Writing At Its Very Best