Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Excitement and a few thoughts

The exciting news is that our Internet connection here at the house is now connected.  Cheers!  In time for us to do a little investigating to be tourists for another week and also for me to get started working.  I will be meeting with the dean of the school tomorrow.

And now a few thoughts and observations:

In the small time and space that I have observed of Bucharest, it is a city of many contrasts.  The modern is next door to the old, the run-down next to the immaculate, people work digging ditches by hand (I saw this, this morning) while others walk by with the latest in cell phone technology.  The immediate streets on which our house is located are relatively quiet, residential streets, but we are just blocks from major streets with attending traffic.

When I first moved to my house in Winston-Salem, which is just 1 mile south of the downtown area, I immediately noticed an increase in noise level compared to my prior suburban neighborhood.  I am encountering the same phenomenon here, with sirens, traffic noises, and barking dogs as an almost constant background.  The good news is that one habituates to one’s environment and I suspect that in another month or two I will be able to say, “what noise?”.

There are stray dogs all over the place as well as many that are pets.  The strays range from really straggly in appearance to fairly healthy coats of fur.  None of them look to be starving.  Amanda has already been in tears over some dogs that were in the street and which cars or taxis came close to hitting (but none were actually hit!) and over some young puppies she encountered outside Ikea.  She believes she needs to find a home for the puppies as they are too young to know to get out of the way of cars and to avoid poisoned food. (We have been told that offering poisoned food is the solution some have to the problem of strays.)  She is eagerly awaiting replies to a number of email messages she has sent out to rescue organizations.  My concern is not simply that she is investing her time and energy in this way, but that it has only been a week!  I am more concerned about how the outcome of this particular concern will impact our months to come.  Amanda had done quite a bit of research ahead of time and knew that stray dogs are a problem here.  Apparently spaying and neutering is not at all common.  I will keep you all posted on what we learn…

This morning I purchased some cherry tomatoes, red pepper, butternut squash, a loaf of whole grain bread, some cereal for Amanda (she won’t eat the muesli that I like), pasta, oil, soy milk, and some cheese.  There are sources of more natural/fresher cheeses and produce, but not nearby – Alina says she will take me on Wednesday.  While some prices are considerably cheaper than in the US, it is not necessarily the case, especially with packaged items.  I spent the equivalent of about $20.
On my way to the grocery I also dropped off recycling.  There are large containers - I will take a picture - on some of the busier streets where one can deposit recyclable items.  It is clear that most folks don't bother, but that is balanced to some extent by the decreased packaging in the first place.  I will do my best to be consistent about separating trash from recycling and taking it once a week.

To end, I provide a brief share from a book I am reading, that I found amusing:  The book is The Virago Book of Women Travellers (Ed. Mary Morris) and the selection is by Mary Kingsley, who travelled to Africa in 1894 at the age of 32 and wrote Travels in West Africa.  The context is cautioning one to not get caught in the mangrove swamp when the tide of the river goes out because the mud is not solid enough to walk on.  “Of course if you really want a truly safe investment in Fame, and really care about Posterity, and Posterity’s Science, you will jump over into the black batter-like, stinking slime, cheered by the thought of the terrific sensation you will produce 20,000 years hence, and the care you will be taken of then by your fellow creatures, in a museum.  But if you are a mere ordinary person of a retiring nature, like me, you stop in your lagoon until the tide rises again…”

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