I’m cold. C-c-c-cold. When I woke up this morning, it was an extremity-numbing 0°C. During the day, the temperature rose to a less-than-balmy 8°, but has now dropped again. In spite of this, the powers that be (my house mother, possibly held to ransom by a gang of rabid OAPs) have decided that I’m not yet cold enough, and have not switched on the heating in my building.
As I write this, I’m sitting here in my pyjamas, a hoodie, a dressing gown, woolly socks, slippers and a fleece blanket. And I can still barely feel my fingers. If I could type in the Winter Olympics mittens my Canadian friend sent me in a care package, I would.
Even though I’m gradually losing the will to live, unfortunately life goes on. Lessons continue and students expect you to be there. Not surprising when you’re the teacher.
When the weather is like it was last week – cold AND wet – you’re tempted to take every possible shortcut, just to get to your destination before the rain finishes off both you and your mascara. Little red men who only a few short weeks ago gave you an extra minute or so basking in the sun, now stand in your way. You laugh in their faces as you take your chances with the resident maniac drivers.
But, if I may, allow me to give you one little piece of advice should you be strolling around Riga at this time of year. Keep off the grass. I don’t mean this in a prissy British ‘Keep off the grass’ sort of way. I mean it in a Latvian ‘KEEP OFF THE GRASS’ way. Feel free to cut across the parks – in general, they’re beautifully-maintained and perfectly safe.
I’m talking about the patches of grass between buildings, the grass verges beside the road.
Sure, it looks like a perfectly viable second-saver, but beware: if there is a random patch of grass somewhere, chances are a Latvian has let their dog take a shit on it. It’s like every blade of grass has a little sign saying ‘Please shit here’, except I guess they don’t need them because there seems to be some unspoken/unwritten law that says it’s perfectly acceptable. Walk past any grassy interlude, and you’ll probably encounter a local standing idly by while their furry friend drops their pups off at the pitch.
And while most people here seem to carry around bags of random shit, an actual bag of shit will not be one of them. They will just leave it there in all its steaming glory, waiting for the next unsuspecting passerby to step in it.
Believe me, the couple of seconds you think you’re saving won’t make up for the minutes spent trying to scrape the stuff off, or the slosh through every puddle trying to dislodge it.
But, as always, I’m looking on the bright side. In a few weeks, the temperature will have dropped another 20 to 25 degrees and then the grass, shit and everything else will have frozen and been buried under around 3 feet of snow… After all, it’s good to stay positive.
UPDATE: The heating came on this evening (03.10). Blog and you shall receive. 🙂