There is a say that you never know where life is taking you. In some cases, thousands of kilometers over the ocean, probably, just like 42yo Bryan Davidson-Tirca, who left America for Romania, before a little halt in Ireland.
And life may be full of surprises also when it comes to profession, as Bryan now owns online comic book store, ComicsCafe.ro, in Romania, although he has graduated…Christian Theology.
“My studies in university were in Christian Theology, but life lead me to become a comic shop owner,” Bryan told us.
He has been living in Romania for about four years and he seems pretty in love with the surroundings, in the mountain area of Prejmer, Brasov, a place that is probably rivaling with the idyllic sceneries of Ireland, which has been Bryan’s foster country before Romania.
“I have lived in Romania about four years. I am from America but had been living in Ireland for four years before moving to Romania with my wife. Now I live Prejmer, Brasov. My wife and I decided to move here because we like the area. A central location also seemed to be a good place to start an online business. I love Romania,” he confessed.
‘The geek culture is incredibly cool here in Romania’
How come he ended up running an online comics shop? In a previous conversation, Bryan told us “it’s rather a fun job”, but which is though rooted in a older passion. “Well, I love stories. I have always loved stories and the stories for comic books, shows and movies are what I grew up with. The storytelling in comics meets a multitude of genres, maturity levels, and subject. Truly, it’s an often underappreciated form of literature.”
And the Romanians’ feedback looks pretty encouraging. “Many of Romanians really like our shop. We bring a variety of things to Romania that meet people’s imaginations. The geek culture here in Romania is incredibly cool,” Bryan says.
He even recounted a funny story involving his Romanian customers at Eastern European Comic Con. “Sometimes they (customers) get wonderfully, emotional. Being a safe person to be emotional around it’s cool. Some flip though our single issue comics and tell us “I feel like I am in a show on TV!”. One young woman was so happy we had Dungeon and Dragons Player’s Handbook, I wondered if she was going to faint. Lastly there was one big guy buying cute little anime keychains and charms, who started to cry and said to me through his tears “In Romania we have a hard time finding anything like these…”. I reassured the gentle giant that it was okay and we are happy to help him in his treasure hunt, because that is part of what we do.”
Romania: pros and cons
Speaking about Romania, I asked him what does he like most about our country and also…what does he hate the most.
“The people and the sense of history in traditions. When I lived in Ireland I met many Irish that somewhat envied Romanians because of this,” is what he mentioned about good things. However, there are also cons: “The negativity and pessimism can be very exhausting at times. Hearing how everything is “impossible” makes me sick.”
Of course, there are also prejudgments about Romania to fill in the picture, but Bryan proved not to be a very huge fan of them.
“Having been to other countries before coming to Romania, I learned it is better to let a country tell its own story. I didn’t know much about Romania before my first visit in 2007. I knew of Nadia Comaneci, the pop group O-zone, and had read the Irish penny dreadful fantasy Dracula, which I understood did not have much to do with the actual Vlad Tepes. What Romania has showed me since being here is alongside its rich history and tradition is often an amazing, untapped potential in many of its people. “
I also wanted to know about what difficulties has he encountered after having settled down in Romania. Is there any glimpse of bureaucracy, inefficient administration, traffic in the picture?
“From my point of view, many of the difficulties that you suggested, <bureaucracy, inefficient administration, traffic>, are symptoms of a toxic mix of two big issues that are hurting Romania in terrible ways. Those of being impatient and materialism,” Bryan opined, adding they are some dangerous traits that should be undesirable.
“However when combined it often leads to prioritizing the accumulation of wealth over both looking out for other people and need for continual self growth. So the biggest difficulty may be repeatedly meeting people that can’t or don’t want to see life beyond trying to be slick and greedy.”
‘So heartbreaking many Romanians did not see the point in voting’
And we could not talk about Romania without mentioning politics, which is on every citizen’s lips. Bryan is a fervent observer of the current affairs in Romania and I wanted to know his opinion about if, in his view, Romanians are too ”glued” to the political scene. Is there much talk and too less action, civic action? Or quite the opposite in the past year?
“I do not think Romanians are <too glued> to the political scene. It is important to be informed. With so much corruption though I understand how it can be both heartbreaking and exhausting to do so. So heartbreaking many Romanians did not see the point in voting. Their action and fatigue is understandable. I sincerely support the protesters in their desire for a better Romania. The protesters communication needs to go beyond the cities though. Outside to the in the towns and villages, where people need to understand if and how they could be being taken advantage of by their local political scene as well as things on a national level.”
Landscapes and creativity of the people, some of things that Romania is shining in
But, enough with the talk about politics and let’s virtually explore Romania’s travel cornerstones. Although he hasn’t managed to travel enough in Romania, Bryan is no stranger to some iconic spots, that he hopes to explore more.
“With more comic and gaming conventions popping up I suspect I will (travel more). The historic churches like the one in my home town here in Prejmer are amazing. The castles and salt mines are rather epic. I would say that the cornerstone of traveling in Romania would be the rich traditions, history, and stories of the people.”
And besides places, there would also be some stuff that Romanians are shining in. Asked to name 5 things that he considers Romanians are good at…. , Bryan replied: “Okay, not in exact this order. Holding on to traditions. IT work. Engineering, though this in not utilized enough. Figuring out creative ways of doing things. Though this too often gets tragically discouraged. Getting by during hard times but the people here deserve better.”
What about his progress on learning Romanian? “There a lot of bad words beginning with the letter <P>”, Bryan admits, making me display a large smile on my face.
“I am learning Romanian. My teacher is very cool and thankfully rather patient. It is often harder for English speaker to learn Romanian than those with Latin or Slavic language backgrounds. Sadly, many in Romania think learning Romanian should be as easy as changing the language setting on you computer. My first words were greeting, yes and no (da si nu), and general words for just getting by in day-to-day life. After that at parties I learned a lot of bad words. Lots of word beginning with the letter “P”. It seemed that if I was in a place where the cigarette smoke would sting my eyes, it was a place where I would hear a lot of profanity. I am sure my teacher will have me speaking like a gentlemen in no time.”
‘I have some recipe ideas to put my diabetic friendly twist on them’
And there could not be any interview with an expat in Romania without asking him about his favorite local dishes. Yet, being a diabetic, Bryan must be careful about what he is eating. “Thankfully Romania has fantastic vegetables. Grilled vegetables, chicken and turkey/chicken sausages are very typical in my diet. Romanian grills are so fun!”
However, he has already thought about some ideas to learn Romanian recipes so he can put ‘his own diabetic friendly twist on them’. “Sarmale made with ground chicken, sugar free cozonac, that sort of thing.” Sounds very interesting, I would say.