Still alive and living dangerously

I felt so tired of sorting and cleaning that I decided to  treat myself to half a day off...

Once I made up my mind that Rome wasn’t built in one day, it meant that I could either indulge in checking Facebook (and realize that the News Feed would be like huge, really huge) or read my friends’ blogs or open a book and read while resting on the bed.

I chose to read mainly because it meant lying down. Then I fell asleep of course. Sorry, Kate Atkinson, I love your book but I was so tired.

Byerly came to check on me. I had left him on the first floor and fell asleep on the third floor. Wouldn’t you get worried too? No noise. No ‘running’ upstairs and downstairs. ‘What is she doing?’. So far so good except that Byerly is a very talkative cat. So he had to call me several  times before making up his mind to come upstairs and have his nap with me.

By then, I was fully awake. It was getting late and I knew I had to do some shopping because tomorrow is a public holiday. It’s Armistice Day! November 11th!

Downstairs again. Put my coat on (it’s rather freezing outside), grabbed my caddie and on second thought, decided to take my camera along.

I love to live dangerously. Caddie plus camera... wow!

There were strong chances some kid would try to grab the camera. It had happened before. But I decided not to dwell on past experiences.

No, actually, I was quite worried about stepping into dog poop while taking pictures. Yes, shame on them, Belgian dogs still do their business on the sidewalks. And yes again, shame on them, their owners don’t clean the mess.

Walking on a sidewalk in Brussels is quite a risky adventure. And there is no other choice, really. The streets are extremely dangerous too. Too many cars driving too fast.

Which reminds me of a not really funny story. A story so very like everyday life in Belgium.

I had been living in Brussels for a couple of days and I was still used to clean sidewalks. It was and still is worth a 50$ fine in Paris if you are caught not picking up your dog mess - they give you darling little bags for free though.

It was a very warm summer day. I needed to go to the drugstore to pick up a prescription. Off I went. Oops. First dog poop. I barely managed to avoid stepping on it. The second one was waiting for me though. I got very mad. To be fair, I was feeling really mad ever since we had moved to Brussels (two days before, I think it was).

I cleaned my (summer) shoes as well as I could. I focused on the sidewalk and managed to reach the drugstore without bumping into too many people.

As soon as I got there, I was in for a big surprise. Right below the counter, there was the biggest dog poop I had ever seen. Not only the biggest one, but the smelliest one and to crown it all, someone had stuck his cigarette butt right in the middle of it.

There were customers in the store. They seemed totally oblivious of the problem. Was it a problem after all?

Cultural shock, it had to be. But I’ve got a big mouth and remember, I was really mad.

‘Excuse me, sir,’ I said to the druggist (who was busy with a customer).

‘Excuse me, sir. But there is a monstrous dog mess right below your counter.’

He looked at me very unkindly.

‘I am not kidding. There is a...’

He called one of his salesclerks.

‘Go clean the mess. Some French lady over there doesn’t seem to like dogs.’

I thought I was really going crazy. I was in a drugstore, for goodness’ sake. In Brussels, the European capital. Besides I owned a darling old dog.

The girl came up to where I was standing and she flashed a big smile at me.

‘Oh, but this is only a small piece of luck,’ she said.

I had two choices. I could smile back and say nothing.

Or I could say: ‘It’s a small piece of luck for you but to me, it definitely looks like a big piece of poop.’

I chose the second option and my vocabulary was quite crude. Add to that my very strong French accent. It was over for me. I left the drugstore never to return. (Lucky me, there was another one right around the corner.)

Well, so I left home to go shopping and to take a few pictures of the area I live in. It's supposed to be quite posh... in Brussels.

When I got home, I did realize my pictures weren't very good at all, kind of sad.

Probably because I never feel very happy in Brussels. This city freaks me out. It does. At least the part where I live mainly because I have to live there.

Well, enough... Enjoy a few pictures of my neighborhood. I did live dangerously to take them, remember!

First of all, the high walls around the gardens. Hard to make friends with your neighbors in Brussels?

Around the block from the gardens (on the Avenue Albert side)

Gardens, schoolyards (private schools) and garages (Avenue Molière behind you)
One funny ladder! Where to? The walls have always been partially painted too.

My very small backyard as seen from my den. Its walls are so high compared to its size!
Now the houses as seen from the avenue Molière where we live and the garbage bags. It's Wednesday night.
One of the most gorgeous houses on Albert and Molière. It's been on sale for almost two years now. 38.000 square feet.

The houses on the right side of the block (avenue Albert). Most of them have been divided into apartments.
This flag display means that the people living in this house want Belgium to stay united. Except that in this case, the flag is displayed on the wrong side - it should be black/yellow/red. Maybe a way to say 'No to Belgium.' Belgians have a strong sense of humor.
Avenue Brugman. Go down straight ahead and you'll soon get right into the ritzy commercial heart of Brussels.
And of course one of the best known features in Brussels : its 'tram'. You ride the tram if you are students or poor enough not to own a car. This is the newest design.
A very typical U crosswalk. Trams are deadly contraptions.

But the electrical grid for the tramways is magical, don't you think?

 *Good Night, and Good Luck*

1 comment:

Myrna said...

Very interesting look at Brussels! And most bewildering about the dog poop! In the drugstore? Quite a shock that would be.