Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Super Heroes

Last weekend we had a really lovely time at "blunch" with a group of friends, some new, some old. We've started calling brunch "blunch" because we start it at noon and it goes on until ... whenever. Living in the capitol city of a country means there are usually at least a few other expats around you, and if you're smart and understand how important it is to have a net of friends, you'll gather these people into a nice little group and they will actually substitute as family.

I was sitting with two of my Canadian friends, Short Blond, and Tall Brunette, and we we're discussing what really annoys us about living in Tirana. SB said that the garbage situation drives her crazy, TB said it is the macho chauvinism, and I said it is the driving/traffic.
Outside SB's front door are three large, ugly trash bins, used by the neighbourhood. These are emptied several times a week by a large and rather modern garbage truck. But inbetween pick ups, the gypsies and homeless people empty everything out of these bins and leave the garbage strewn all over the place. Next in the pecking order come the street dogs and cats who sift through the leftovers, and after that the rats. It is pretty horrible and I can imagine how annoying it must be to face that everytime you go out.

TB also has a point about the completely archaic attitude that men (including fathers, brothers, uncles etc) have towards women. Some say it stems from the old laws of the clans, where women are described as being carrying sacks. Domestic abuse is common, and girls are over protected by the males in the family. As foreigners we notice that women have a difficult time being taken seriously in conversation.

My choice is the traffic. There were no cars in Albania until the early 1990's, so the city has not been built to accommodate traffic. Even if it were, the people drive like maniacs. Absolute maniacs. I can't go out without feeling irritated by it. They drive as if life has no value at all, and the only thing that's important is that they get from point A to point B as fast as possible. I often see elderly people scrambling for their lives as they try to cross the roads. Almost no one stops for red lights. Passing on the right is common, but even worse is passing on the left. Actually it can't be called passing- it's actual driving on the wrong side of the road. Albanians HATE waiting for anything. In most countries pedestrians have the right of way, but not here! You take the chance of losing your life everytime you go for a walk. Seriously.

Okay... enough ranting. After we talked about these things that annoy us, we jokingly said we often felt like throwing eggs at stupid people who drive like maniacs. Then we said we should form a group of vigilantes, complete with armbands and pink berets! We'd go out at night and reform the city, one bad driver at a time. What a great idea!

So on the way home, P and I were talking, and I told him about our super hero idea. I said we were going to be vigilantes and go out at night and hurt people! "Only one problem" he said. "Aren't super heroes supposed to SAVE people, not HURT them?" I looked at him and chuckled.

I guess he's right.

4 comments:

melusina said...

Well, but in this case, you have to hurt people to save them, right?

Anonymous Expat said...

Sounds a lot like Serbian traffic. It is really a sight to see a hunched 90 year old running for dear life across an intersection. Though you probably see that once in blue moon in NYC too.

Stephanie said...

Hi there!

I'm your BBM sender...just wanted to let you know I mailed your package out Monday, using the 4-10 day option. I just heard from Cathy that you're heading back to Canada, so I hope it gets to you before you leave!

Expat Traveler said...

wow - the traffic sounds like what you experience in prague a bit also. That place was so crazy when I was in a car. Most of the time I took public transport or walked which was a lot better but still, I was darn scared and not used to the havic.