Arguments for “VisitFactories” Travels Part 2

In Part 1 of these series I told you about my childhood years. Now I want to remember a few stories that took place during my years as a student in college. I had a very special teacher (at that time he was about 70) teaching about hydro power plants. The lessons were usually lasting 2 hours. As he didn’t leave the classroom during the breaks, he liked to talk with us, especially to tell stories about various things, both personal and professional ones too. There was a favorite subject: his travels – he couldn’t stop telling and I was among those who could never stop listening. Often it happened that his stories filled the whole second class hour and only another teacher who followed in that classroom could stop us.

Some of his travel stories were about his car – a Wartburg (an east German, 2 stroke engine car making an awesome noise and leaving a cloud of smoke; at that time, in 1985 – 1986, it was over 20 years old), about several sculptors – he liked Mestrovic, about his study excursion in Italy in the end of the 1930s, in Rome, Florence and Venice,  and about some visits he paid to some  famous hydro power stations worldwide.

It was then when I got a lot of arguments that  Fontana di Trevi in Rome, the Pieta of Michelangelo, or the hydro power stations from Itaipu (Brazil), from the Volga river (Russia), from the Danube’s Iron Gates and from Breazova (a  small unknown station, but among the first built in Europe, at only 20 km from my home), are each, in their own way, sublime. It was short after his story I visited that power station near my town. I remembered every word, every indication of my teacher, and so it really was: about how to drive on the bad forest way,  about where and how to turn and park the car, about the Ganz Mavag original generator and many others.


Michelangelo’s Pieta, Rome

The following story is not one of my teacher’s, but it is an event I lived with him. A serious accident happened (it was still in 1985 – 1986)  inside the huge electric generator of a big and new hydro power station. All the party leadership was alerted, but  it was kept secret as the newspapers didn’t write anything. However, all the people learned about it. I for instance, learned from my father whose colleagues were involved in the design.

Short after the accident, our teacher came to announce that he won’t be able to come to class that day, but that he would go to a power station and that there were still 2-3 seats left in the minibus. I and a colleague of mine offered to accompany his team. It was for an inspection of the broken generator. On the way, he told us that they found the cause of the accident, and that the party leadership doesn’t want anymore to keep the other good generators stopped. It was a justified fear that another generator might break too.

With this fear I entered for the first time in the underground heart of a power station through an 1-2 km long and dark tunnel. There I felt the water rumble of the functioning turbines. My fear and my adrenaline were at a top level. Then my teacher asked me if I didn’t trust the engineers who designed it. I knew them very well, as the generator’s chief designer happened to be our neighbor in Resita and she was there underground with us too. It was also a moment of sublime empathy I felt there.

For arguing the universal, ageless joy of playing, and of being good, I’d better tell two more crossing stories, mine and my teacher’s. It was in the late 1960s, when together with an elder cousin of mine, in our grandparents’  house, we were playing a game: who will guess the type of car that passes on the street, listening only its noise, its sound. It wasn’t like today, usually only 2-3 cars passed each 5-10 minutes. We were both good, but him, he could distinguish for instance the 407 and 408 Moskvich only by their gear box whistle (he knew this explanation from a neighbor,  a mechanic).

Returning  to my  teacher’s Wartburg, I understood it was the thing that made us empathize with each other, when I could reproduce him the 2 stroke engine noise, for different regimes. Astonishingly, he, at 70, did it better. Something more: that old Wartburg, adjusted and driven by him, was the best, the safest and the speediest on the road at that time, and was always an important, distinguished character of his examples.


A  Wartburg 311 like that of my teacher’s

Awesome Wartburg videos:

Starting a Wartburg 311

Wartburg 353 Race Music


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