Hey Cluj! It is so great to be with you. Sorry to have to open my first assignment with a story that stinks!
Anyone who has lived in Cluj-Napoca for the past three years has noticed a trend. At first, there was the lock-down. It was not as strict as in other European cities, but there were fewer students, fewer tourists, and fewer people on the streets overall. Gradually, however, the town went back to normal, and it is now much more crowded than the town we see in the old photos. (Especially when it comes to cars).
This last summer, the summer of 2023, we noticed something different. I went to one of my favourite parks to work out, and ended up going home early because I was bitten by a mosquito. I know, I am a wimp. But I hadn’t noticed mosquitoes for the past three years, not in the city anyway. Cluj-Napoca is generally a low-bug town (okay, so cockroaches and flies greet you at the airport, but not many bugs here bite you). I did not want to get my blood all over the equipment, so I went home.
Then, we went to town to have palanets. How do you say it in English? Artisan pie? I will call it a palanet, almost like the Romanian. We looked for a place to sit, and noticed a stink at the bench of our first choice. It stank a little like a sewer, like old dog droppings, or like old garbage, even maybe a dead body. But I could see no man holes around, nobody walking their (cringe alert) ‘fur babies’, and there was a small bin nearby but it was not overflowed. We moved, but the stink was at another bench.
Then I took out the rubbish. (Or is it garbage)? The old food waste anyway. After I put that out, and began walking, it still stank. At first I thought it was me that stank (I was playing with decaying garbage-rubbish), but even after I washed my hands and changed clothing, the smell was everywhere.
So, I did some research. I found out that Mayor Emil Boc also wants to know what caused the stink. I found out that expats and new arrivals from other parts of Roumania were complaining about the stink. And I found out that New York City also stinks. And I remembered about the Great Stink of London in the late 19th century.
I looked at the facts.
- New York stinks more in summer. This year had a lot of days of over thirty, even over 35, degree weather.
- London stank more because poor waste disposal. The company in charge of waste disposal changed in 2023.
- There is an area of Cluj with an open dump. This may be getting worse, and the smell might be spreading to the rest of the town.
- London and New York both attribute large populations to their stinkiness. Cluj may be decreasing in overall population according to the census, but the students are back, there are more tourists, and the population appears to be more concentrated. Crowding can contribute to the stink.
- More people in a small space means more waste, and even if it is cleaned up, it all adds up. Are there more people? The students are generally back, and Tiff had the busiest year ever, so maybe.
- I saw more old dog droppings on the pavement. Not more dogs, but more old droppings. You know, when they get all gross and turn white (this may not happen so much on your grass because nature helps it decompose better.) These ‘old white poops’ are especially pungent.
- More traffic. Perhaps the fumes from cars are helping to exacerbate the unpleasant odours.
What do you think caused the stink? I think all seven of the above factors contributed.