BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania has changed dramatically in the 25 years since the people rose up against dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, executed him and began the slow transformation to a market economy and democracy.
Here are five ways that daily life has changed:
REGISTERED TYPEWRITERS TO SMART PHONES
People walk at a Christmas fair in central Bucharest, Romania, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014. Under communism, religion was not banned, but church going was discouraged for Communist Party members and the Securitate secret police. One dozen churches were razed or moved in Bucharest for Ceausescu¿s giant House of the People (also inspired by his trip to Pyongyang), but Romania has changed dramatically in the 25 years since the people rose up against dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, executed him and began the slow transformation to a market economy and democracy. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Under communism, typewriters could not be bought in the shops, because the regime was fearful of people distributing anti-government manifestos. Those who had typewriters had to register them with the police every year and explain why they needed them.
Today even young children have smart phones and tablets and people enjoy high-speed Internet. One thing that has gone backward? Modern keyboards do not have diacritics and many don’t bother to install the software to use the cedillas and accents that Romanian uses, a source of lament for language purists.
CARS BANNED IN WINTER….NOW PARKED ALL OVER THE SIDEWALK
Ceausescu rationed everything from bread to meat and gasoline. The few people who had cars could only get 20 liters (5.3 gallons) a month, often with waits at the pump of up to 48 hours. Private car use was banned altogether in the winter in the 1980s as Ceausescu squeezed people even further to pay off the country’s foreign debt.
Today in Bucharest, where more than a tenth of the Romanian population lives, it can take two hours to cross the city when traffic is bad and cars clog the sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk in the road. Affluent families often have several cars, with SUVS being a favorite even though Bucharest has no hills or rough terrain. Some SUVS cost as much as an apartment.