Last Friday evening we hosted a casual dinner at the Beraria Gambrinus for six distinguished English gentlemen, all in their sixties and seventies, and all except one visiting Bucharest for the first time. (What were we doing in such fine company? Well, one was a close friend of our father’s, and had invited us to join them for the evening).
Anyway, one of the questions we were asked over the course of the evening was ‘What does Bucharest pride itself on?’
We were stumped. We ended up mumbling something all a bit perfunctory (and unimaginative) about the sheer size of Casa Poporului as well as the fact that Bucharest is still a very safe city compared with any number of other places we could mention – not least in England – but we could tell that nobody was entirely happy with the answer.
It was only in the taxi on the way home that the definitive answer to the question became all rather obvious: kerbstones. Bucharest has the most amazingly well-kept kerbstones in Europe, if not the world.
They are well kept of course because they are changed so often: in our sector, the People’s Republic of Sector 3, led by our dear leader Robert Negoita (he of Info 3 fame), the kerbstones are changed at least every couple of years.
This year, however, the local council has outdone itself, and is not just replacing existing kerbstones, it is actually placing brand new ones where before there were none (and where, the contrarian might argue, there is no need). One such place is Calea Vitan: the tram lines which run down the middle of the road are currently being fenced in by some beautiful new kerbstones. How lucky we are.
Spending money on replacing kerbstones that do not need replacing is not, of course, a new phenomenon: it has been going on for years. It appears to be a popular way for the mayors of the various sectors to – how can we put this – ‘show their appreciation’ to some of the people who financed their campaigns. And as much as we or anybody else might want them to spend our money on the millions of infinitely more useful things that need improving in Bucharest, we can’t see anything changing anytime soon.
That’s why we should try and claim these amazing kerbstones as our own, and spread the word far and wide: Bucharest has the finest kerbstones in the world.
*Beams with pride*