Răzvan found this intriguing place named the English Passage located next to the city center of Bucharest, near Calea Victoriei: all of us, including myself passed in front of it many times. I even think I may have passed trough it once, but noticing only a small part.
The first thing that captured my attention was the sign of an old-fashioned hat maker who’s owner has the same name as me, next to a small music store as those you can see in the ’80s movies and a watch repair shop. In a corner on the floor you can see a blanket and a couple of books, probably the resting place of an enlightened homeless person.
In line with the other stores there is a small pub, where we meet a local celebrity, probably the most famous person in the block: he is a painter, a legit one – later we saw some of his works on the walls of a restaurant in the next street. He had some beers already, which made him be in a good mood for talks and stories. Wile there, a huckster entered, he was selling socks. Our painter asked if they are “3/4” or just normal, the huckster sowed some, the painter bought a few. Later he looked more carefully at them “Those are not 3/4, I got shafted”.
The passage is in fact an inner court, with apartments on all sides and 3 more levels above the ground. On the top is a roof made from colored glass, letting in an unusual light. The doors are a varied mix: some old, some new, some abandoned.
At the upper level some hooks were hanging from the roof, they were totally spooky and made us wonder about their purpose, imagining various scenarios. But they were simply for opening the windows on the roof.
When wandering to the stairs, one of the characters we meet was crazy person-type woman (she looked pretty much like a homeless person, but she had a home there) who tried to scare us away, telling is forbidden to wander on the stairs. She went even to pretend calling the police, she went back to her door and talked loudly (so he can hear) like she would have talked with a policeman at the phone, complaining about strangers. Later we learned: the place was used in the past as a location for a few movies, so the woman just wanted some money to shut-up.
Another interesting person was an old lady, she lived in the building for over 50 years and is very sad for its’ current state, after the past glory: built by an anglophile, it was unique in the city, then a refuge for nobility in the early communist days, now is partly abandoned with some rooms abusively taken by gypsies/homeless people.
I don’t ever try to guess the origins of the lips signs I saw in various places of the stairs walls
If the story needed a finale, when we left a luxury car was parked on Calea Victoriei, in front of the passage entrance and next to a pile of garbage. This is Bucharest, the next building is a fancy hotel, the other side of the street has sky scrappers.
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