Have you ever read The Shadow of the Wind? I read it a really long time ago and I’m not sure it’d be my cup of tea now, but at the time, when I was new to Barcelona and still discovering the city I enjoyed it a lot. I don’t remember much about it, except its magical atmosphere and that there was something in the story about books being a portal of sorts. Anyway, discovering the beautiful library in Bucharest makes me recall the feel of the book – and also gives me some sort of retroactive kind of FOMO I tend to experience a lot in Bucharest. To think that a place as wonderful as this library existed, long before I ever did, that it was always here and I never knew about it. That after a brisk twenty minute walk I could be here, sitting quietly among endless library shelves under crown molding and elegant lamps from the turn of the century enjoying my own quiet and timeless little oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle outside. The city has many such hidden magic nooks and crannies, portals, in fact, to its various incarnations from days gone by. The city has many faces and facets. It is both easy and hard to fully get to know, camouflaged by the obliviousness of its inhabitants’ mundane existence. People pass by its treasures every day without realizing what they’re missing. Sometimes I wonder how many of the city’s secrets I would have unlocked had I never left it. I remember loving to explore it in high school and loitering happily in parks and cafes with my then best friend. Surely I would have become a skilled urban explorer in the twenty six years of my love affair with the city that I have missed out on. But perhaps, such as with most affairs, my longing to enjoy it and my sensitivity toward its complex moods, is heightened by our infrequent get-togethers. Still, sometimes I have trouble sleeping at night thinking about how I’ve missed out on nearly a lifetime of warm covrigi eaten on the street, of sitting quietly in this library, of cooing park pigeons, and the sense of mischief and adventure I get from walking these very colorful and way too congested city streets.