Monthly Archives: October 2011

Gagauzian Hip Hop

Why have I not posted anything to Dispatch Gagauzia in over a week? Because I’ve been working on something truly special (if I don’t say so myself), and I spent 4 or 5 days moving to my new place and helping with renovations in the new place. Long story. What have I been working on? Translating an interview with Gagauzian rapper/artist/producer/mogul Vitali Manjul.

Vitali, or Manjul as he goes by on stage, is something of a legend in Gagauzia. The first Hip Hop artist in Gagauzia but not the only I’ve been told, he’s been making music for almost twenty years. Manjul raps in both Russian and Gagauzian. I spent about an hour talking to him but don’t worry, the video is just about 6 minutes long. After the interview was over he signed some C.D’s, took some photos and made me promise to come back and visit often.


Without further ado, Vitali Manjul in his own words:




In other news:

I rode to Chisinau in the back of an ambulance with a schizophrenic mental patient. No joke. Long story short my friend’s dad is an emergency room doctor, and apparently one of the perks of the job is being able to transport your friends and family in the ambulance when they transport patients to the capital. I don’t think it’s exactly legal but eh. Normally a policeman rides in the back too but not this time. “This one’s quiet.”

In other bizarre but true stories:

I made it on to local television for the second time. This time walking down the street with an English man who has been traveling around the world in his truck for 5 years. Afghanistan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, all the “stans.” True story. He found me on Couch Surfing, we went to Anna Nikolaevna’s and next thing I know he’s on television holding a stray cat in his arms and drinking wine. I couldn’t make it up if I tried. Starts at 18:08:

In perhaps the strangest of them all:

I’m meeting the U.S. Ambassador to Moldova tomorrow. Gulp.





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In Moldova and particularly in Gagauzia almost every family makes their own wine. Obviously, enough to keep them very refreshed all year too.  The wine doesn’t make itself, picking the grapes and processing them to make wine is a lot of work. One day each fall (or two depending on the size of the family and their vineyard) the family spends the whole day collecting grapes to make wine. In Gagauzia, this day is something of a holiday whose traditions and customs are unique to each family. I was very fortunate to receive an invitation to tag along and help out on one such day a few weeks ago.   I spent the day picking grapes (I promise I wasn’t behind the camera the whole time) and spent the evening feasting and drinking wine (last year’s). The next week I went back on two other occasions to help out with the juice collecting.  By my estimation it took us about 15 hours to get all of the grapes off the vines, the juice out of the grapes and into the cellar for fermentation.  Once the juice hits the cellar it’s ready in approximately 40 days.

I’ll be sure to let you know how the wine turns out but for now enjoy this embarrassingly amateurish video I made about the process. Be sure you stay tuned to the very end of the video for a very special message from a very special person. 

I promise you it took every ounce of strength I had not to insert Montell Jordan’s This is How We Do It into the video. I opted for some Gagauz music I recorded at the museum the other day instead. I also took some photos of the process.

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A Boy Named Su

I spent part of yesterday and today preparing a few words and images about Dmitry Kara Cabon and my amazing experience at the celebration in Besalma yesterday but I didn’t get a chance to finish everything. Let me explain.

I moved into my new apartment exactly one week ago today. Coincidently, one week ago today was the last time I had access to running water.  At first I didn’t think too much of it. It’s normal for the water to be shut off for a few hours and even a few days for various reasons. That’s why everyone has 30-40 liters of water on hand at all time. No big deal. When in Rome.  After three days passed without any sign of relief I began to get curious. I called my landlord (s)/handymen. My landlord is a nice guy but a completely clueless human being little inept to say the least, and he always shows up with an entourage of two or three equally inept guys. You may remember them from past encounters such as “the refrigerator doesn’t work because the extension cord you gave me is rom the 60’s” and “I promise you it’s not just because the foreigner doesn’t know how to use the heating system, it really is broken.”  Let’s just say these guys would give Larry Deryl and Deryl some competition. 

I digress. Fast forward to today when there’s a knock on my door. It’s a woman from Sucanal (the local water company, su is the Gagauzian word for water). Apparently my friend Olga had been there this morning complaining on my behalf. This woman tells me that she is here to remove the little piece from my meter (forgive me but the specific name escapes me at the moment) which prevents me from turning back the numbers and cheating on my bill. She’s removing this piece to give me the “opportunity” to work on the pipes and apparently the “opportunity” to pay her 30 Lei for a pice of paper documenting said “opportunity.” She says that my water filter is probably just dirty and that I simply need to get a wrench, take it off and clean the dirt out.  Perfect. No problem. Borrow a wrench this afternoon and I’m golden.

Not so fast pony boy.

Fast forward a few hours and I’m at the office of the non-profit I do some work for (Miras Moldova) when a plumber shows up to fix their water (an entirely different but equally amusing story). I don’t claim to have a grasp on even the most basic elements of plumbing theory but it’s quickly apparent to me that this guy does, especially when compared to Larry, Deryl and Deryl. Naturally I convince him to come and take a look at my apartment. He gets the filter off and surprise, still no water. He does some investigating with my neighbors and wow, the hits just keep on coming.

Apparently the day I moved in was also the day that a “big biznesmen” decided to make two apartments one on the ground floor. Ever since this construction project (the remnants of which have been in the stairwell all week) every apartment along one water line has been without water. One neighbor even reported saying something to the biznesmen after which she was told to mind her own business. Big biznesmen.I recruited a local and we made our way to Sucanal (remember, su is Gaguazian for water and pronounced like A Boy Named Sue) where upon hearing or dilemma were met with a response of “and so/ну что.” Not joking. Eventually they told us that we needed to present an official letter of complaint  to the director with all of the signatures of the tenants without water. We drafted the letter, collected the signatures and returned to Sucanal (again, su = water in Gagauzian) where they made a copy of our letter to present to the director.

I think this situation ends in one of two ways. Either someone from Sucanal (again, Su = water) comes out to the building in the next 2 months and realizes the problem can be fixed rather easily or the big biznesmen and Sucanal (su=water) fight over who is to pay for the repairs.Vegas has their money on the latter.

Whew, that was cleansing.

Enjoy the picture of my bureaucratic capital.


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New Digs

Even though it’s probably not the best thing for my language acquisition prospects I moved into my own apartment this week. I was going to stay in my home stay for another month but then this apartment became available in the perfect location, I couldn’t risk not taking it. It’s on the 4th floor of THE 9 story building in Comrat right next to the Miras Moldova office and literally above the Pro Europa center where I teach English.

Click “show info” for a description:



Elsewhere, tonight is stage three of the wine making process, pressing the grapes. I have nearly 2 hours of video and thousands of photographs from the wine making process. Going through it all is an uphill battle, soon I’ll have something to show.

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