Alex is a storyteller living in the heart of Transylvania- or maybe in the skies! Is he Romanian? Officially, yes, but…
Who is Alex?
Alex Glod was the third writer I ever met and he is a charming friend of mine. When we first met, some months ago, he seemed ten years older than his actual age, and he addressed me by saying “Hello, stranger”! He is a storyteller, an artist, a trainer, a writer; he cooks, he knows how to get ready for a long trip abroad in thirty minutes and he cleans up his room perfectly – or at least, so he says. He believes in love, he laughs like a child, he sings Louis Armstrong songs in the park in the mornings loud enough for everybody to listen to him, and when he talks it is as if he has lived on this planet for more than a century. His nightmare would be to live on a remote island without people, because he needs people all around him. We arranged a telephone interview; I address him by saying “Buna ziua, ce faci?”, and he replies “I’m fine, dear, how are you! Um, did you speak in Romanian, or am I talking to someone else?”
Born in November 1988, Alex feels “hugely grateful to [his] dear mother for carrying [him] inside her for nine months”. He comes from the small city of Barlad, Romania, but after various personal problems there, he decided to leave his hometown and work, first as a construction worker (“even if by looking at me you wouldn’t believe it,” he says), and then as a bartender. Having realized that he gained nothing apart from physical exercise and that he spent so much time almost in vain, he returned to Barlad, only to leave it soon after for Sibiu, where he enrolled on a degree; International Relations and European Studies (“For some strange reason, I wanted to be a politician, my dear,”). Around this time Alex joined AIESEC; an international student-run organization, and discovered his passion for personal development training, and for international culture!
And the language coming out of his mouth is…
Alexandru speaks English with a British accent and notably even uses a different voice to his “Romanian” one, while his face also changes. A rascal in Romanian, frowning with his lips slightly parted, he becomes polite and subtle in English. His books were also originally written in English. Why are we telling his story here on Meeting Halfway? Because Alex’s books “come straight from the heart” – they actually make up his “life story, enriched with psychology and personal development advice, to connect with [his] work”, but it is the life story of a Romanian guy written in English…
There are examples of authors who wrote in a different from their mother tongue language, like the Greek writer, Vassilis Alexakis, who wrote in French. But he did so after having resided for many years in France. Alex, apart from the short periods he has spent in Europe leading personal development sessions with young people, lives in his own country and has no apparent reason for not simply writing in Romanian and then translating his books, or having them translated.
Alex says he really feels “absolutely comfortable in this foreign language” and that this extended use of English is not a matter of “promoting” his career as a public speaker or a personal development trainer on an international level, or targeting foreign customers. “It’s me, the real Alex, when I am speaking in English; English is certainly not a cover for something that can be hard to speak of in my mother tongue, like it is for some people who are embarrassed to use a word in their native language, or to speak about taboos, for example. I want my voice to be heard in the world, not because I will have more people paying for my books or for my services as a life coach, but because I want people to hear what I say.”
SIBIU, THE PLACE WHERE ALEX LIVES © Anastasia Karouti
How does this constant use of a foreign language change one’s viewpoint?
Our storyteller states that English gives him a better understanding of the world, as it is a universal language. It offers him “a wider perspective on things and it is equipped with words that can transmit the ideas [he] wishes to speak of, something that Romanian, româneşte, fails to do”. As well as this, Alex reveals that writing in English gives him the opportunity to address a wider audience and to allow him, a Romanian writer, to become known outside his country. Not for profit, not to sell more copies of his books, but rather to open up a discussion with more people and to allow them to get to know him through his personal stories. He argues that “there are many famous English-speaking writers worldwide, while the Romanian writers are a small group in comparison,” so he aims to change this (he is not crazy enough to want to compete with Ionesco, but rather to continue in his own field).
Does Alex feel more cosmopolitan when he speaks in English? Well, he seeks out the company of foreigners; he is fascinated by them. After a fit of sneezing, with me wishing him “Noroc!” (“Bless you”), then receiving a perfect “Thank you!” in reply, Alex speaks to elaborate on his thoughts. He speaks as a linguist, although he has not studied Linguistics.
Alex the linguist
He explains that “words convey something more than meaning, a whole different perspective, and a different cultural background.” He thinks that if one has a profound knowledge of a foreign language, they can reach an understanding with other people, by common experiences shared through this language. Illustrating his words with an example, Alex says that there were many cartoon series during the 90s, during his childhood. He was a fan of some of these series, just as some of his foreign friends were. The fact that they “can speak about something experienced once in a third language is magical, as it gives a common code and a strong bond of sharing something similar.” Thus, Alex believes that a good grasp of a language makes us free, in the sense that “we can share common things without being restricted to our own country or region”.
What are Alex’s future plans?
He wishes to travel to the Philippines, to explore Asia, go on with his neurolinguistic programming studies, and maybe learn something new about language. Perhaps he will then return to Romania with an even more international approach towards things, perhaps he will have become even more ‘British’! He admits he wants to go on with his own personal development, language included.
Alex proves how wonderful language and speech are, how these networks and clusters of sounds can alter people. With his story close to our hearts let us speak, for, as Alex whispers enthusiastically, “with language we will discover the world.”