I may sound really pissy when I write this so please forgive me. I have close friends and in-laws that live there and I know that they have to endure this list of things. Knowing this makes me rather cranky. =)
My unequivocal largest gripe, OK second largest gripe, with life in Belarus is the layers of bureaucracy that have to be waded through to get stuff done. I will write more about this later. It takes about two complete days of wandering around and shuffling paper to get stuff done. Grrrr…..
- Public Restrooms
This is probably my largest grip. I know what you are thinking silly little wussy American….
Now this I really cannot understand at all. I can see that this is OK with Bealrussians because it is what they are used to. This is what life has always been like and they do not know anything different. But why is it this way?
The bathrooms are a borderline biohazard area. They have not been cleaned in God knows how long; the toilet seats is missing; the smell of urine and defecation is strong; there will most likely not be toilet paper; and there may not be a door; or paper towels or soap to wash your hands.
I fear going anywhere that is not someone’s house for having the possibility of having to use a public rest room. I eat really lightly if we plan on going somewhere public. Eeeekk!
Bring your own toilet paper and work those quads so you do not have to touch the seat (if it is there), cause that is what they do. It would suck to get rabies from toilet and have to go to a hospital there. (Yes, I know you cannot get rabies from a toilet seat – using literary license).
Holy breeding ground for disease. The buildings are not well kept. They are dirty, with paint peeling, and lights and other fixtures missing. They will put like 6 people to a room with no separation or privacy that should hold about 2 or 3 people. They have not enough lighting in the halls or rooms. The doctors and nurses (because they are at work) are not exactly there to help and are grumpy.
- Lawsuit Fodder Everywhere
There are so many things that happen there that would be major lawsuit fodder here inthe United States like construction being done and the construction area (pit with sharp metal pointing out) is not cordoned off properly with kids playing and jumping over it; or not enough lighting in all of the hallways for their apartments with something on the floor for you to trip over. I can make list after list, but this along with the bathroom issue should be enough to give you an idea.
They do not have lawyers suing everyone because they are bored like they do here in the United States, so things like this go on and no one can really do anything about it. There is no one that really cares enough or has money enough to deal with it. Ugghhhhh!
- Hot Water (Heating) Turns Off(On)
The Government will turn off the centralized hot water city-wide for 2 weeks a year “for maintenance”? What the hell is this? Is this a benefit of a Soviet communist infrastructure? Somebody sign me up. =(
Granted this is not a lot of time per year, but who was the genius that designed the hot water systems this way?
- The heating systems for all of the apartments, and believe me there are many, as most people live in them, is turned on when the government decides that it is cold enough to turn it on… perhaps a few weeks into October or so. It gets colder there than it does here.
- Crosswalk Indicators
Their crosswalk indicators count down the seconds until it changes state. Very cool.
- Halva (Sunflower)
Halva is a desert like thing that is made from crushed and compressed sunflower seeds. It is eaten primarily with tea. Check out the Wikipedia Entry for Halva.
The people are warm,
and friendly (as long as you do not catch them at work). Very social, warm, and they love to tell stories, and ,of course, drink vodka. I had about 4 shot of vodka a night every other night, and about 8 shots for special occasions.
If you catch them at work and ask them to do something related to their job they can be downright cantankerous, obstinate, and ornery – a far cry from our service oriented business here in America.
Pelmeni is like our traditional ravioli but is usually purchased frozen and without sauce. Wow does this stuff Roxors My Boxors! Check the Wikipedia Entry for Pelmeni
- Stop Lights
This may seem like a small thing but the their stop lights blink yellow before the light changes to signal a change from Green to Red and vice verse.
- Sunrise and Sunset
The sun comes up at about 06:00 (6:00am) and sets at about 22:00 (10:00pm) each day. This makes for nice long days where you can get a lot done.