Nationalism, History, and Memory in Eastern Europe

Presenting the Personal Research and Writings of Richard Andrew Hall, Ph.D.

Lambada Loopback: Deva, Romania, July 1990

Posted by romanianrevolutionofdecember1989 on January 21, 2012

About twenty years ago to the day, while backpacking through Romania, I found myself confined, of all places, in a Deva hotel room.

Deva was as sleepy a town as could be.  I had arrived there jumping almost crowd-surfing, parachutist-style, from an overcrowded train onto an equally overcrowded wartime-refugee-like platform.  The dead dog just outside the Cetatea (Citadel) would still be there over a month later, as I found out in swapping stories later with another fellow Romanianist.  My market sense was still not well-calibrated:  I gave a Gyspy woman selling rottening small green apples 3 lei and she started shoving more and more apples at me.  (Your wallet would bulge in those days:  disintegrating 100 lei notes were the largest bill in circulation, but inflation was rampant, and black market exchange still very attractive…so you would leave with wads of 100 lei notes on you.)  Then I went to find some place for dinner…

Anyway, whether it was that meal or not, the next day I was feverish and confined to bed.  I sweated and writhed in the bed, thinking melodramatically:

I’m dying.

No, I’m not dying.

I’m dying (by myself in a crappy hotel room in Deva, Romania)

No, I’m feeling better.

I’m dying.

“No, I just can’t think of anything better to do…”

Anyway, so there I am in bed.  And in the next room, all day all I heard was loud voices, evidently from a large group, and the constant clanking of bottles (they had pepsi crates stacked in the hallway, pepsi still a delicacy at that time in Romania…I’ll never forget going into a village store and having a choice between Vietnamese prawn crackers and Vietnamese vodka…that appeared to be it!) and then the incessant, almost loop tape playing of the following song–whose name I did not even know at the time…and yet which as a result of that day, will unlikely to be ever able to forget.  (Oh, yeah, I recovered in the following days…much ado about nothing as it turned out.  Still I remain haunted by THE DREADED LAMBADA!):

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