Imagine this scenario. You wake up in the morning, eager to explore your new city, excited to enter into your new world. You bundle up in coat, scarf, and hat, zip up your boots over your jeans and head out into the brisk morning air. But you immediately have a problem. All around you are obstacles! Icy steps. Icy sidewalks. Snow covered sidewalks. Mud. And this last one is the most prominent of all. Mud mud everywhere. Because, you see, here in Romania when it snows they do not do what we do in America- shovel the sidewalks. What they do is spread a sandy-dirt substance on top of the snow, thus returning the "sidewalks" to their pre-snow conditions (concrete is optional for sidewalks, and if it exists, it was likely put there in 1972) and ostensibly melting the snow. However, when you have melted snow, aka water, and mud, what results is more mud. And it covers nearly every surface on which a person might conceivably walk. Unless you care to walk in the slush covered streets and get hit by a car driven by a fellow human being who apparently does not value your life as much as you. Which I do not.
Herein lies the problem. You want to explore and take in the surroundings, yet you must constantly be staring at your feet for potential, in fact probable, pitfalls. It is utterly frustrating. Between the ice and mud and slush, I have given up all hope of ever staying clean. God forbid I wear khakis one day.
Given this situation, what I have yet to understand is why people here wear white shoes. Because there are just enough white shoes walking about that I am beginning to think it's not, how shall I say this gently... stupidity. Do people here enjoy the necessity of cleaning their shoes after every single time they go out to buy eggs? Or is it some kind of fashion/coolness statement? "Oh look at me and how I can keep my white shoes clean, all you brown-shoe wearers." But apparently people here clean their shoes with some frequency, regardless of their color. Because with the exception of construction workers, I am the only person I ever see with mud-caked boots. Everyone else has shiny clean shoes. Everyone. Do they know about some mudless, pristine streets that I have not yet discovered? I just don't understand. Could it be possible that people actually clean their shoes every day? *gasp* And if so, why has no one considered that if the city simply had someone go around with a shovel rather than a bucket of dirt when it snows, we could all get along much better? But maybe it's just me. This is likely the case.
In any event, I am doing my best to embrace this wonderful oddity of city life. And have even started cleaning my boots on a semi-regular basis. People keep trying to tell me that it must be somewhat like this in New York, so it's can't be that bad here. These people have clearly never been to New York, because if this were true I'm quite certain that there would be a whole team of lawyers dedicated to helping individuals sue the city for the travesty of dirtying their brand new pair of Manolos. For instance. But alas, I am here, and it would not appear that the situation will be changing in the next, say... ever, so I will simply seek to be amused. And buy some really lovely shoe cleaner.