Took the elusive bus 90 to Universitate and hung out at Cafepedia. I worked on rewrites for IJ and looked at the costs of renting an apartment in Bucharest. I have decided that I will make Bucharest a bigger part of my life. I love this city. That statement usually shocks other Romanians. I want to live near downtown, in the old centre if possible, though I’m told to stay away from there because it’s filled with Gypsies. I don’t really understand the Gypsy thing, but I guess it’s similar to the First Nations thing back home. There’s some serious social problems among that group of people. I’m really not knowledgeable enough to comment further. Still, I have no problem with Gypsies and I grew up in a much rougher neighborhood than ‘The Old Centre’.
It started snowing in the afternoon. Everyone was happy about that because Bucharest hardly ever sees snow. Despite being from Regina, I couldn’t help but smile at all the joy those flat fluffy white flakes brought to me.
Laura called me at around 6pm and I headed to the Jazz Bar (with the ‘one table’ non-smoking section). We met Andrea there, a friend of Laura’s, whom I spent time with on my last visit to Bucharest. Andrea is special. She got a new tuba for Christmas. She has no idea how she got it. She looks great, and is back in school where she’s studying architecture. Over supper we fell into an argument about all the cars on the road in Bucharest.
Car ownership under communism was difficult to obtain. Now, as times are more prosperous, people are buying cars like crazy because cars = status. There’s too many cars on the streets, more cars than the streets can handle in fact. Furthermore, people park them where ever they please… sidewalks, boulevards, unused portions of a turning lane. Anything goes. Cops don’t issue parking tickets and many cars are simply abandoned on public streets for months or even years at a time. They choke traffic to a near standstill at times. The concept of towing these vehicles and impounding them, or even issuing a parking ticket was mind boggling to Laura and Andrea. “You can’t take someone’s private property away. People have the right to own these vehicles.”
I responded by saying that with ownership comes responsibility. If you leave your vehicle abandoned on public property, you deserve to have it impounded. Furthermore, there’s no such thing as free parking in Regina. When people have to pay to park, they’re encouraged to use other means of transportation, or avoid downtown.
I’m simplifying the conversation, but needless to say, the concept of paid parking, of impounding abandoned vehicles, and of issuing parking tickets were too crazy a concept for her to really imagine. That’s saying a lot. Laura is one of the most exceptional people I know. She can talk to you for hours about Luis Bunuel, she can hot wire her PC and kick your ass at Warcraft with her level 41 Druid, she can tell you the capital of Alberta is Edmonton, she can speak three languages, she can talk global politics, economics, history, and she handles herself with the grace and ease of someone twice her age… but she can’t wrap her mind around parking.