Friday, March 20, 2009

Scenario #23: Defeating the smell of cigarettes

Since I've been in Kosovo, my daily routine has a new dimension: airing out my clothes. If in the course of a day I go to a cafe, or a restaurant, or a store, or a colleague's office, or a friend's house, or pretty much any other indoor destination... that evening, I will spread my clothing out around the flat in an attempt to replace the distinctive cigarette-smoke smell that has pervaded all layers of my attire with something a bit fresher. Preferably fresh air.

Some highlights of my smoky existence in Kosovo have included, to date:

- Sitting with colleagues in the basement of a lovely cafe named Picasso, with intriguing art deco and faux retro decor. They were kind enough to suggest that I and the one other non-smoking member of the party (nb: 2 out of 12) sit together at the same end of the table so we wouldn't have to be surrounded by the smoke. Even with their thoughtfulness, as we left the cafe I looked back toward the table where we'd sat and discovered that the entire room was filled with a haze of smoke produced by my friends.

- At a luncheon, sitting downwind from four women, all of whom smoked. They smoked while they waited for appetizers. They smoked in between appetizers and main dish. They smoked after they finished the main dish, and they smoked while they drank the end-of-meal coffee. And when they weren't smoking, they left cigarettes burning in the ashtrays - and if you spend much time around smokers, you know that the smoke produced by non-puffed cigarettes is much more brutal to breathe in than that produced after puffing. It took me longer to eat than it took them to eat, so I ate a lovely meal of veal, rice, salad and cigarette.

- Walking into a local pharmacy and discovering three people sitting around next to the medicine stock. Smoking.

- For the first time in my life, being very nearly peer-pressure-forced to smoke. This happened at Jazz Club 212, where my friend asked our very friendly attractive server if he had a cigarette. He gave her one, then he gave me one. I tried to politely refuse but he stuck it in my mouth. As he lit my friend's cigarette, I took mine out and put it on the table. I wasn't too worried: my friend finished hers and then had mine. Then she smoked another one given to her by the girls dancing next to us.

- At work, most days, sitting all alone at my desk while all my coworkers socialise on the balcony where they're getting their morning smoke.

So what is the solution? How do I air out my clothes and my hair without washing everything several times a day? If I'm going to be second-hand smoking as long as I'm here, why don't I just join in the fun? (Ha! I can't really imagine myself doing that!) Some foreigners refuse to enter public buildings, but what a loss, to never associate socially with anyone at all. Because here, that's what it takes.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Well Katie, I would be first worried about second hand smoke. As a Asthma person who has it set off my smoke I feel your pain. Now to the practical part of getting smoke out of your clothes, have you tried Febreeze?

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