Heat waves in a hot city

All my Uber drives were simply perfect until that very moment. Couple of days of perfect Uber drives.

Loads of back and forth from one place to another under almost 40 degrees celsius. So going in and out of taxis, exchanging 40 for 20, seemed legit. I usually do not choose the car, nor if the driver can talk to me or not – it is pure random. And it went perfect. Nice little talks, air conditioning, quiet, clean cars, one even smelled of lemon. Loved it.

Fast forward to the last day. Requesting a drive from mid-Bucharest to the airport – mid-week, mid-day.

I wait outside, sweating my brains out. Car approaches. F*ck, this is quite an old and s*itty one. Whatever. I just need him to have a charger.

Driver stops, his iQos in his hand.

‘When do you have your flight?’ Well, good day to you, too, sir!

Gets me quite unprepared. I look at my watch.

‘In 3 hours.’

‘Oh, we have time for a cigarette.’

‘Of course. Take your time. I am also a smoker, so I get it.’

Should’ve zipped it.

‘Come inside, we’ll smoke!’ I remain silent, shaking my head from left to right in a no. ‘No, no, no, light one’. ‘I am good, thank you, I usually smoke outside’. ‘Ah, c’mon, light one!’ ‘You know what, I just smoke one, I am good.’

The ride begins. The driver is driving and looking at me. Not through the front mirror. He’s actually turning his body, talking to me while I am the only one in the car paying attention to the road ahead. I check the safety belts.

Some few moments of silence follow. I am positive we’ll do good for the 50 minutes remaining. How naive of me.

‘Where do you go?’

‘Netherlands.’

‘How’s it there?’

What do one usually answers to this question? I’ll play the dumb card.

‘Nice.’

‘Do they have these temperatures?’

‘No!’

‘Do they have these heavy rains and hail?’

‘Not quite.’

‘But you’re under water! It will flood!’

Sherlock, what the f*ck…

‘Not quite. I am pretty sure they have some people who already thought about this and…’ But I stop. I decide to make it painless and short. The discussion (monologue?!) dives deeper.

‘Do they have highways like here?’

No, we crawl underground like rats! Or no, we fly with drones.

‘Yes.’

‘How many lanes?’

‘Many.’

‘How many?’

Jesus almighty!

‘Let’s say 6..’

‘I have a cousin…’ Here we go! Family time! I hope it’s a small family, not too many brothers, sisters and especially children. I am not too keen on children. I shut my brain and scroll on my phone. From time to time I mumble some aham.

‘Where do you like it most: Bucharest or Netherlands?’

This one I’ve heard it before so my answer is always It depends on a multitude of things. What do you actually ask? Do we compare anything in particular? If so, what? So we can be on point and take it from there. But I could not, would not and did not want to take my driver in that area. So I just said:

‘Both.’

‘What language do they speak? French?’

What the actual f*ck? I think I paused quite a lot before answering, he was already looking at me for 5 minutes (so it seemed…while continuing to drive our car of choice. In Bucharest!). I thought about the path to him choosing French as the answer to this tricky one. I tried to reason – ok, so you go like this: England – English, Germany – German, Italy – Italian. And then you go: Netherlands – French.

‘No, it is Dutch. They also speak English.’

‘They’re an English colony, right?’

Mother of all gods!

‘No.’

We step outside Bucharest and chaos unleashes. Road blocks. Drivers changing lanes with the precision of heart surgeons. Verstappen would weep. My driver pulls a well-known Romanian curse used while driving. Then another. Here we go! But it does not get me. I have a pretty face but quite a mouth so I am fluent in cursing in my native language.

‘Education, mam! This is what is lacking to all these people! Look at them! No education!’

It’s the first time I stop scrolling and give him a loud ‘Yes!’

Approaching the airport. He needs to take a right. But he doesn’t.

‘Your pin is here!’

‘What?’

‘Your pin! The ride should stop here. Do you really wanna go to the airport?’

‘Sir, if my pin is incorrect, apologies, I need to get to the actual airport, yes. Can you..’

‘Mam, no worries at all. I got you!’

Police do-not-cross lines. All cars are stuck. No one gets to Departures. 40 degrees. Everyone stops the cars. Kids cry. Parents kiss. Grandparents unload heavy luggages from the trunks. Everyone lights a cigarette as soon as they get off their drives. All happening there, under a hot clear sky, far from the Departures, not even on the side of the road.

I decide to do the same and step off. I do not kiss anyone. I go out, take my troller and thank my French knowledgeable driver.

Police removes the do-not-cross lines, step in their cars and go. M*therf*ckers…2 minutes too late.

Arriving to Departures I hug myself. I made it. Now let’s get some air conditioning.

Two times naive in just one hour! Henri Coanda either does not have an air conditioning system or the heat wave made it impossible for it to actually function. It is hot! Very hot.

You are now leaving Romania. Anything to declare – go to the left. I take a right. Nothing to declare.

See you soon, you city, you! Love and loathing.

Deal the cards

God gave Summer the cards and she’s shuffling and dealing them. She’s obviously cheating and the beating hearts are obviously pissed. So pissed. Summer is playing Autumn and we do not know who is who anymore or what the rules of the game are. Who’s speaking? Who’s shuffling?

Flat Lands is raging against all machines. Dutchies have flames in the corner of their eyes. Expats are considering life, in general, questioning everything while praying and cursing to the same gods.

While I find myself mid-year already, there are only two options. B*tch about it. Which I do. Every day. Burn everything down until you are covered in the ashes of your normal life. Which I do. Every day.

Or go out (to b*tch about it). Just go out. Or do whatever you were about to do anyway. Which I do. Every day.

The habit of walking came as a necessity. As a must. And it stuck. I walk. I walk until the road turns into a street turns into a path turns into a stop sign. I’m a translucent beginner, but still: I walk.

I walk no matter the weather tantrums. Or everything else. One sure fact is that it rains water and not dog shit or sharp glass. It could at a certain point, but, as of now, as far as I’ve seen this morning: it was only rain water. A good gear is mandatory – I think I have the ugliest boots and I look like Dopey on weed in my wrong-size rain jacket. But who cares? Do you? Cos’ I surely did not this morning while it was raining water and cats and dogs and usual Monday to-do lists and everything in between. And still: I walked.

I counted 217 slugs while trying not to smash them with my boot and keep my head low so that the glasses remain clean. And there were more but I stopped counting since I was getting bored and ABBA was screaming MammaMia into both my ears. I started mumbling the song and using my fingers to tap the rhythm on my rain jacket. And still: I walked.

People complain about slugs for quite a while. Well, basically since the rainy days became a rule and not the exception. There are trillions of them. Everywhere. They eat your garden alive. I would not know since I do not have an actual garden. However, I have a bird feeder for my birdies. Apparently they eat just to poop. A lot. While some are concerned about slugs eating their strawberries, I am concerned about how much poop my beautiful birds can leave on my terrace while they feed themselves out of my mercy.

Summer – this cheeky lady, a bit beautiful and a bit cocky, is still shuffling and dealing whatever she wants. It seems that she’s keeping the royal flushes for herself. Whatever she does, I will pretend the wrong-size jacket will wear off at a certain point. I will still spotify Stayin’ Alive and sing it with that pitched voice without really understanding the words but acting like a raged chihuahua.

By the way, did you observe that chihuahuas are the absolute kings, the leaders of their pack, the seed in the avocado, the bubbles in the coke, the essence of life? Who cares if they’re not supposed to? Do you? It’s how you go out and present yourself that matters. And they sure put on quite a show.

Well done, Summer. Well done, chihuahuas. Shuffle again. I am ready!