So, it’s been a few weeks since I last wrote a post. It is of course not because I have nothing to say, it’s because I have been almost busy. Although it’s only a short time, the difference, here in Odessa is immense. Summer held a tenacious grip on the city way into late September and despite a couple of feeble attempts by autumn to gain control, the sunny skies and warm weather continued. Until two weeks ago. With all the zest of an ADHD case on cocaine, Madame autumn ripped the reins of summer from Mother Natures hands and charged Odessa headlong into the season of golden leaves, frost and condensation on the windows.
|The Leaves are Falling|
Whilst the weather is fine and clear, beautiful in fact, the balmy temperatures of late September have dived into single digits. Gone is the al fresco street dining, the beach goers and the tourists. The beautiful women of Odessa no longer parade in mini skirts, and crop tops, now the fashion of the day is fake fur coats and tight jeans. The six-inch stilettos fortunately are still very much in vogue, although I am not sure how their handling characteristics will cope with the uneven, often dangerous pavements, especially when they are covered in a thin veneer of ice.
Our rented flat, which was an airless sweatbox in the summer, is still, oddly warm. And this is strange because the heating has not been switched on here. You see unlike most of the non-former Soviet Union, here one of the lasting legacies of communism, along with cheap transport and dodgy electricity, is that the heating is communal. Every block has a big boiler room and tall chimney somewhere near the middle. Officially October 15th is the switch on day, when big old Soviet boilers are fired up, and steaming hot water starts coursing through the antiquated pipe systems into old radiators. The best way to describe the radiators is to imagine a school built in the 1920’s. Visualize the classrooms. See the big old wrought iron monsters underneath the windows. Exactly like that. Only smaller, much much smaller.
Now a quick check of the date reveals that it is, in fact, October 18th. The tan painted (at least I assume its paint) radiator beside me, is colder than an eskimo’s nose, a silent, heatless monolith. Checking this with Tania, it seems that although October 15th is the official switch on day, the unofficial switch on day is twenty-four hours after the number of complaints from the residents, consumes more time that actually firing up the boilers and if our flat is typical example, that may be some time yet.