Five things I don’t miss about 90s/early 00s Bucharest

I am very aware that some of you who didn’t live through this exciting time in Romania are going to find this list very strange, so I’ll just dive in:

1. Being chased by stray dogs every other day

The issue of stray dogs in Bucharest is still a pretty hot one, but the situation has improved so much in the last ten years. I was lucky actually, I never got bitten by a stray dog, but my dad did once trying to keep them away from me.

One particularly bad experience was when I was chased by a group of four or five of them and had to jump on the roof of a parked car and then onto a small building to get away. In Bucharest we were all doing parkour before it was cool.

2. Garages

Most people with cars wanted a garage, and most people got one. They sprung up at some point like mushrooms after the rain, in rows and rows.

They were tightly packed prefab concrete constructions, and the space between them was just about enough for a reasonably thin person to sneak through.

Naturally they were filled with rubbish. I am pretty sure no one cleaned those spaces ever, and if that was actually someone’s job I feel really sorry for them. They were also the shelter of choice of stray dogs.

3. Regular earthquake predictions on TV

Romanian TV loves people who can predict earthquakes, or the whereabouts of missing people, or what you’re going to have for lunch based on your star sign.

Some years ago there would be one major earthquake prediction every year. If you’ve ever been to Bucharest or googled pictures of the damage in 1977, you know why that thought it scary.

If not, does this building look like it will probably collapse in the event of a major earthquake?

A fairly standard apartment bloc I got from Google streetview. I'm sorry if you live here, it's not personal.

A fairly standard apartment block I got from Google streetview. I’m sorry if you live here, it’s not personal.

It does to me. Especially if one of the residents on the ground floor decided to build an extra large kitchen and knocked down a resistance wall in the process.

4. People cutting your cables

It was not enough that any phone line, cable TV or internet would take ages to get installed by the provider, there was also a chance that someone would just cut your cable once it was in place.

That’s one of the joys of living in apartment blocks without an intercom, or with a neighbour who just lets anyone in.

Were you a few days late on your bill? Cable cut. You looked a bit weird at someone in the street? No more cable, sorry. You have to wait ages again for a new one.

This wasn’t a daily occurrence but it was enough of a hassle when it happened to make this list. It probably still happens, but I haven’t heard anything about it recently.

5. Being woken up by shouts of “scrap metal”

Usually shouted to a tune as well, from someone sitting in a horse drawn cart – the cart is now banned from the city thank god.

Not the best way to be woken up in the morning, or during the “resting hours” between 3pm and 5pm.