pitestiLast time on “Dental Tourism in Romania” ….stunned by the cost of dental work in the USA I Googled my way to a cheaper alternative in Romania. Having survived the arduous journey from Florida I was now ready to be taken by the dentists fiancee and the radiologist to meet the big wig himself………We left the airport and drove for about an hour past block after block of concrete monstrosities. I don’t know what Ceacescu was thinking when he came up with the idea of destroying all the old buildings and turning the entire capital city into what looks like a derelict multi storey car park. As we got out of the city we passed through miles of flat open land with only the occasional church to brighten up the landscape. It was at around this point that I started to think of the movie “Hostel” Here I was in a car with two complete strangers, one a not unattractive girl and the other a suspicious looking dracula type character. They were talking in Romanian and whatever it was they were discussing was obviously very funny as they kept looking in the rear view mirror and laughing. I couldn’t help thinking that this would be a great place to dump a body. There were few cars and no houses for miles around. If I were going to dupe Americans into coming to Romania this is exactly where I would shot them, steal their credit cards and dump their body. I felt around in my back pack for any kind of improvised weapon I could find just in case my worst fears were realised. The best I could come up with was a toothbrush since airport security had confiscated my nun-chucks and blunderbuss. To my surprise and relief we finally reached the city of Pitesti without anyone having to stop the car to slit my throat. This wasn’t a scam after all. The dentist was legitimate. “Screw you people at work who thought I would get murdered here !” I muttered to myself.

We finally reached our destination and as most drivers do in Romania our driver stopped abruptly on the road and turned the car off. The commies never envisaged a society were people owned cars so they made absolutely no provisions for parking. It also would appear that nobody in Romania has ever felt there is a need for any kind of traffic laws. The road may be say 8 lanes wide but that doesn’t mean it’s 4 lanes going one way and 4 going the other. No that would be too English. It could be 7 lanes going one direction and 1 the other or 3 one way and 5 the other or any other combination you care to think of depending on the time of day and which direction most of the aggressive people are heading in at any one time. When people are finished driving they will park anywhere, on the road, across the doorway of shops, in bus stops or simply on top of the dead body of the pedestrian they just crushed to death by driving up onto the sidewalk.

The dentist office was just like any dentist office you might find in the USA. Same equipment, same smell, same decor but lower prices. The dentist himself came out to greet me with a warm smile and a hearty handshake. He seemed strangely familiar. I had seen his face before. Could it be ? No surely not. Yes it was him.

Tony Casales my old school friend was here in Romania masquerading as a dentist. There was no mistaking his chubby little face, big eyes and dark hair. No one had seen Tony in the last ten years since the whole incident with Deacons bed and the traffic light on the cricket field. Overcome by amazement I finally managed to utter a word “Tony ?” I said. The dentist paused thoughtfully. “Tony,” he said “now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long long time.” Actually that is a complete lie he didn’t say anything and just looked a bit bewildered because he didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. In hindsight he probably didn’t even look much like Tony Casales but at that moment after 40 hours without sleep I guess I was grasping for straws. Thereafter we talked, joked and made xrays. I felt strangely at home. Everybody could speak very good English which was all the more remarkable given the book they had used to learn the language. In order to help me in Romania, Alana (the Fiancee) gave me an old book that was aimed at Romanians visiting London. It had what were supposed to be useful things that Romanians could say when in England. Section one of the book was titled “Visiting London.” I assumed there would be some useful tit bits in here that I could use to get by like “where is the toilet ?” or “how much is the bus” but alas no.

This book was obviously written by the same numb-skull who designed post war Bucharest. The very first “useful” comment in the book was a question that translates as follows …… “I say sir is the elderly gentleman in the doorway Dr Johnson.” It then had the probable reply you should expect from the savvy Brit “No my good man. That gentleman in the doorway is the famous English playwright Sir Alec.” I read this and wondered in what situation ANY of this would ever be useful. In order to use this you would have to firstly know a Dr Johnson secondly to spot someone who looked uncannily like him standing in a doorway and thirdly for that person to be a well known playwright. It occurred to me that if you were so well acquainted with so many English folks then you probably wouldn’t need a Romanian/English translation book in the first place and either way even if you did, would you really give a damn who the old git in the doorway was when having used this stupid book during your entire trip you would have had the most miserable experience ever since it was the most useless book ever written ? Before long though language barriers would be the least of my problems.