An Englishman abroad for most of his life, from 2003 Nigel Shakespear spent the best part of ten years in Romania, travelling throughout the country, much of that time working with the government on improving conditions for the Roma. His experience of Eastern Europe began back in the Cold War days when he was in the British Army. Later he spent some years in Russia in the 90s before working on European Union funded programmes around Eastern Europe.
Fascinated by an intriguing country full of contrast and contradiction, and asked often enough by Romanians, Ã¢â¬ËWhat do you think of our country?Ã¢â¬â¢ he decided to come to an answer by talking to foreigners who had been living in Romania long-term, people more integrated into the Romanian world. When his last contract came to an end, he set off to talk to them. This took him on a haphazard and engaging trail through Bucharest, around Transylvania, to Maramures and the Banat. The Ã¢â¬ËNew RomaniansÃ¢â¬â¢ he found living there helped him develop a deeper appreciation of the country and its people.