This past weekend I had two new experiences: Catholic baptism and a trip to the opera.
First, the baptism. I have a private English student, a friend of a friend, who had a baby a few months ago. I hadn't really expect to be invited to the baptism, but of course I gladly accepted. Since I'm neither Romanian nor Catholic, I thought it would be something interesting to see.
First there was the actual baptism service, which lasted thirty minutes. The priest talked about how children are important to God and we need to make sure they know about the things of God. He read some passages from the Bible showing that Jesus welcomed the children and encouraged us to learn from their faith, and honestly there was more substance to the message than a lot of Baptist sermons I've heard. There was also some chanting and singing, which threw me off a little bit because the choir was in a balcony behind the congregation, so I spent a few minutes trying to figure out where the music was coming from... Then they did some things that I couldn't really see because I'm short and there was a crowd, but I did see that they poured water from a small pitcher onto the baby's face and he didn't even cry. Overall it was a really nice ceremony and I was glad to have been invited.
Then there was a party. And by party I mean 200 people at the nicest restaurant in town (which my student's family happens to own). And by 200 people I mean all the important people of Lugoj, including the mayor, all dressed in their finest and speaking Romanian. This could have potentially been very boring for me, but since I rather enjoy watching people, I was pretty well entertained. When you have a baby in Romania, it's a big deal, and it's not uncommon for the celebration to be as big as a wedding. That means a six course meal with at least an hour between courses, lots of loud Romanian music, and plenty of dancing which increased throughout the evening as more wine was consumed (or in my case about a gallon of water).
First there was some typical dinner music with a cover band, piano, etc. Then we enjoyed an hour or two of traditional Romanian music and dancing, which my friend and I watched from outside the circle. After that, a professional violinist from the Timisoara Philharmonic performed, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Then about three hours into the festivities we were treated to an appearance by a famous Romanian pop singer who I recognized from TV. The lights went down and in a matter of minutes this swanky restaurant turned into a dance club. Again, I found this more fun to watch than to be part of.
Of course everybody (except me) wanted pictures and autographs, and being seated somewhat near the door, a little old lady turned to our table and begged for a pen so this guy could sign her napkin. You should all know that if anybody in the building had a pen it would be me, and I offered my black fine-point Pentel RSVP. It was safely returned to me after a few minutes and is now back where it belongs in the bottom of my purse. So although I don't have any pictures or autographs from the evening, I do have a pen with the fingerprints of some tattooed famous fellow, and the satisfaction of knowing that I helped make this lady's night.
At this point my friend and I had both had enough, so we stayed long enough to get our fourth course and then left. After over seven hours in pantyhose, I finally got home around 12:30am, stuffed full of gourmet food and smelling like cigarettes. This was definitely not the most spiritual thing I've been a part of here, but I think I can safely say it was the loudest, longest, and biggest party I've ever attended.
Sunday night a big group of us went to the opera. We saw Nabucco. It was nice. I felt classy. The end.