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Sidewalks of Bucharest
prose [ ]
the begger(s)

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by [mircealupu ]

2011-11-14  |     | 

-Do you know the guy who speaks three or four languages and begs around hotels and restaurants in downtown Bucharest ?
You can see him wandering, peeping at you and weighing whether or not to accost you.
He is wearing some tight jacket and trousers and his face looks nothing like a beggar’s one, with his thin lips, bluish eyes, and a large scarf around his neck.
“I lost my papers and need money to phone home”, he says.
I heard him speak Russian, French, English…almost every time I meet some friends in downtown I see him there, either in front of a restaurant, or near a hotel, always on the lookout.
-What about the old man sitting from noon to midnight on a bar chair in front of a slot machine? I often see him through the windows of a small gambling house. He wears a jockey cap and seems very passionate about what he is doing. In the room, on a table sits a whisky bottle from which the old man sips to multiply the lemons and the apples displayed by the slot machine. He has nothing to lose, I think.
He seems much merrier than the chess-players gathered in Cismigiu Park, crouched around chess-tables, small, petrified hunchbacks wrapped in black overcoats, sadly contrasting with the green of the surrounding nature.
-And the stout lady with a large hat and long fluffy billowing dress, sweeping the legendary Bucharest dust, gliding on sidewalks with her soft gate and beady eyes, asking for money …She is kind, polite, absent-minded, prisoner of a past reality. She never gets angry whatsoever and bears the insults of the passers-by with her usual serenity.
-And the one-legged chimney cleaner – whenever I see him, I make up a new story on how he fell from a roof and broke his leg beyond repair, even if he may have not been a chimney cleaner in his entire life.
-And last but not least the toddlers on their way to school. I couldn’t help but thinking that some of them may not succeed in life but would like to learn foreign languages, some would be old fashioned, some maybe would like to gamble.
Downtown is changing, from horse-drawn trams to electric trolleys, from one-way streets to wide high-speed avenues, but on the sidewalks we will always see replicas of these characters, wandering through the same dust of Bucharest.

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