Friday, 7 October 2016

It's Dumping Day in District 5 and 7!

Over the course of the chilly morning, large mounds of rubbish have begun to litter the normally beautifully-kept streets of District V and VI. Broken mirrors and decrepit sofas; abandoned toys and stacks of moldy books; smashed boxes, torn down blinds and piles of flattened cardboard. They amass outside chic designer shops on Andrássy út, congregate behind the Opera House, vie for pavement space with café chairs in the Jewish district. Every now and again, a passerby pauses, gasps and pulls some item of 'treasure' from a heap of dusty detritus. Along Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út, I see opportunist students sat on sofas they've co-opted, sharing cans of beer as they wait for friends-with-a-van to arrive and transport their booty.

Apparently, it is Dumping Day in Budapest! Every year, usually the first Saturday of October, the residents can throw out anything they don't want anymore into the street and they will be disposed of for free, collected by garbage trucks on the Saturday morning. 

There's an air of catharsis as businesses take the opportunity to clear out before refurbishment (there's an awful lot of deconstructed air-ducts, deep-fat fryers encrusted with grease and lots of old chairs). Residents decide to finally throw away that stained couch and broken-legged dining table. But there is also that feeling of opportunity. "You can take whatever you want," explains one local lady as she carts away a pretty nice wooden-framed mirror. As apartments are emptied of the old, so by tomorrow they will have been redecorated with the 'nearly new'.

The weather's turned in the past few days, the temperature plummeting from 20 degrees last Friday to near freezing point this morning. An unusually warm September extended the summer season, but now the ruin bar kerts (gardens), have closed, restaurants are dismantling their terraces - and the remains are thrown into the street. It's like an alternate spring clean: announcing summer's end and a chance to refresh your living spaces before winter properly arrives.

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