Keep off the grass

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.

Not typing-friendly

Not typing-friendly

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. 🙂

About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Accommodation, Humor, Humour, Latvian people, Rudeness and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Keep off the grass

  1. kathexpat says:

    Sooo, I’m guessing you don’t get to enjoy lying on the grass on a warm, sunny day? Or pick up, dust off and eat the sausage that falls off the barbeque?

  2. Lila says:

    its ALLWAYS freaking cold in europe. why? because they save at heating. in my apartment they dont heat untill its november. and at night they dont heat at all. i longingly remember russian overheated apartments. as for the grass…. i wonder are roads in latvia any good or are they muddy and slippery? do they freeze in winter like in russia when it rains and then snow and rain melt and freeze into ice so that the whole city is like a huge dangerous ice skating rink? ifthe situation is not so bad then ur lucky))

    • Expat Eye says:

      The road situation here is pretty dismal at the best of times! They’re good at clearing the roads in and around Riga but the rest of the country, not so much!

  3. rigaenglish says:

    When I lived in Valencia, there was no heating at all in the buildings. Days were fine, since the coldest it ever got was +12 in mid February and even then only for a week. But there was a five or six week period from late January through Feb when the nights were between 1 and 6 degrees. I thought my girlfriend was joking when I first came here and she told me that I couldn’t switch the heating on. I didn’t believe her and wasted five minutes hunting for the thermostat, followed by another 10 minutes sitting incredulously wandering quite what I’d got myself into. 8 years later it’s just a case of wrapping up warm and viewing this is a preparation for my pensioner years.

  4. atleast it isn’t on the cobblestone sidewalks like here – the latvians give their dogs a little bit of restroom dignity…although, it’s easier to spot it on gray sidewalk than in a muddy patch of grass.

  5. I’m having Winnipeg winter flashbacks… especially the post snow melt (after about 8 months or so) when all that winter’s ahem s**t makes its appearance in the spring.

    How happy I am to be walking the obstacle courses of Jakarta roads! 🙂

    Thoroughly enjoyed the post – as always!

  6. Mha-ha-ha, so now I’m done laughing hysterically and getting warm doing that, I’ll put my two cents in. Since fellow Latvians ain’t all that different from Lithuanians, the logic behind not turning on heating might be simple – heating in the very beginning of October? No way, I ain’t gonna pay for that s**t for an extra month. So we just suck it in, buy some electric heaters just in case it becomes way too cold, and which are only turned on before sleep or for very short periods, etc. and put on some extra sweater. Hopefully the weather might yet turn to somewhat warmer temperatures, if not, then OK, let’s do the central heating thing and get it on.
    Regarding your other *smellier* topic, I think poo mine fields might be the most natural thing for the whole post-Soviet region. And picking up after one’s pet is still an awkward thing out here, though there are some pioneers already doing that. Theoretically, leaving behind your pets *gift* might score one a big fine, but since it’s not that easy to catch one by his hand, most just leave the goods on ground as in ‘that’s all natural, like some fertilizer, so why worry.’

    • Expat Eye says:

      That must be why it’s so green here – all the ‘fertilizer’ 😉 I saw around 7 patches of it on my way home from my lesson this afternoon! Do they have Pooper Scoopers in the Baltics?!

      I can kind of understand that people don’t want to pay for heating this early. I don’t really want to either – but if it’s a choice between freezing to death and paying a bit extra, I’ll pay extra! 🙂

  7. Anna says:

    The heat got turned on in my building last week and at work on Tuesday. Beautiful. And for the next week Moscow is gonna be having a bit of a heat wave – highs of 4-8C! Sunbathing temps 😛

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ooh, lucky you! It’s supposed to get up into the low teens here again at the weekend but I’ll believe it when I see it!

      • Lila says:

        but here its a general thing. they just dont do it because of high costs. today a college asked me suprized – why r u allways cold? i thought russia is colder then germany. outside maybe but its a dry cold. its not so unpleasant. and they do heat the homes in russia=) allthough in germany im just happy that i dont have to walk over gololed like i had in russia=) no snow no ice smooth roads… its a blessing)

    • Lila says:

      ur lucky=) im jealous. in germany i have to sleep in a woolen jumper jogging pants and socks because they dont heat at night even in winter. right now its october and its so freakin cold in germany((( the heater is barely warm.

      • Anna says:

        That’s crazy! I live in a very old building in the Center, so we have independent boiler (not part of a ‘raion’ heating) so it’s possible to bully the authorities into turning it one independent of the city plan.

  8. Lol. Wow and I thought I was cold here. It’s sunny during the day but the nights and mornings are so chilly. I’ll take it over summer though. I love how you can be so eloquently descriptive, even about poo. 😉

  9. pollyheath says:

    Our heat got turned on in the middle of the last week but it’s definitely still several-layer temperature in our apartment.

    Also, the dog shit thing drives me CRAZY. Why have many places not cultivated a culture of picking it up?! The best is in early spring when the snow starts to melt, and all of the horror is revealed.

  10. As you complain about the heat not being turned on, my wife and I are arguing about whether the AC should be on. I prefer my spot.

  11. Hannah says:

    I lived in Latvia for a year, the winter I spent there I remember wearing two or three hoodies on a few occasions. I hope the heating comes on soon, not that it’s ever that much warmer with it 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      That’s true! I’m hoping this place will be OK as it has new windows so hopefully not too draughty! Or else I need to buy a whole lot more clothes!

  12. Ohhh omce again I am in fits of laughter. At you or with you, I can’t be sure yet. But what the actual F*ck is wrong no heat…. how low does it have to go before it’s turned on??

    • Expat Eye says:

      Usually an average of 8 degrees 3 days in a row, which it has been! But it looks like it’s going to get a little warmer again at the weekend so I guess they’re waiting. Plus the old people here don’t want to pay for heating so I guess they have a say too! When I turned over in bed last night, I woke up as my pillow was so cold it shocked me, even in my sleep!!!! 🙂

  13. That sounds… like a not at all good situation 😦
    Hmmm… some peoples build huts out of dung. It’s excellent insulation, and it sticks well. Seeing as you’ve got plenty of raw material lying about, you might just want to give that a go. And once the temp sinks below -25, you’ll hardly smell it anymore. I read a hilarious book once by an Australian woman who went to work as a chef in Antarctica, and she said the only thing that still smelled of anything at those temps was coffee.

  14. A Latvian in wool socks and a blanket says:

    That’s the main reason why Latvian women are considered so beautiful – they simply stay firm and fresh in the cold. At least that’s what my physics teacher always told us 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      I wonder if it works for Irish women too? My physics teacher never mentioned that. Although I couldn’t understand most of what she was saying at the time 😉 Linda.

  15. Well, to look at the bright side, at least the fuzzy friends pick the grass to poo. In Utila, the poop is on the pavement, courtesy of the street dogs who make a fine mess of roads and walkways.

  16. “And while most people here seem to carry around bags of random shit, an actual bag of shit will not be one of them.” Beautiful.

    Oh. And given your recent comments about Latvian women, I suspect that your house mother would be happier to see you freeze to death than turn the heating on… So maybe buy some more clothes? I can send you some stuff from the UK?

Comments are closed.