Dirty books and dead birds

Instead of stands with mass-produced souvenirs, the street vendors here line the sidewalks with old books and used records and toy figurines. Old men sleep in the shade of pink umbrellas next to scales, presumably with the idea that someone will pay a leu to see their weight. All the books and records are in Romanian (except for one tattered copy of “Thriller” I saw) — nothing is for tourists.

I saw very few other tourists in Bucureşti, and postcards were almost non-existent. A couple Italian girls in my room told me they saw some at the train station, where the “Tourist Information” booth apparently consisted of a woman smoking behind a stand with some maps and postcards.

Houses – Endless Spring

The parks are for the locals, too. One park I went to was full of children and families. An old man reading a Romanian translation of Danielle Steel sat next to me on a bench, and a group of teenage boys on squeaky bikes called out “Buna buna buna!” to some girls on a paddle boat.

They rode by repeatedly, and finally stopped when the girls shrieked and pointed to the shore. The boys abandoned their bikes, and soon they were all huddled around something on the edge of the water. The old man next to me called out to them, and soon joined them. I thought he was reprimanding them, but he emerged holding what looked like a large, dead crow by the tip of one wing. He deposited it about 15 feet away, and then returned to Danielle Steel (with his dead-bird hands).

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1 comment
  1. I’ve seen a lot of older folks with scales hanging out at various parks in the former USSR, though a bit more actively seeking business, in general. And I believe I’ve seen someone pay to see their weight, though I might be hallucinating that…

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