Read, Write, Run, Roam

I have a drinking problem

What is wrong with this picture? (Besides the bad lighting.)

I am a drinker. Always have been. But it may not be what you think.

Until I accidentally put them in storage (ugh), I had refillable water bottles at the ready. I packed drinks for car trips longer than 20 minutes. I love the phrase “to-go cup.” More than once, I had to explain that I was neither diabetic nor a recent contestant on Survivor: Gobi Desert.

If that was unusual in the States, it’s downright freakish here. People don’t walk around with water bottles, or any beverage for that matter. And when they’re in a restaurant, they are occasionally offered dainty glasses of water next to industrial strength espressos and large glasses of wine. Want to order water? No problem. You’ll get a tiny bottle made to make you feel like a giant. And at 5’4” in Serbia, it takes a lot to make me feel like a giant.

I don’t understand this. Aren’t people thirsty here? The tap water is tasty enough. Here are five possible reasons for this anti-water phenomenon:

1. Chronic dehydration is a national pastime.

2. There’s only one size of glassware for non-alcoholic drinks. In the whole country.

3. The Wicked Witch of the West cast a spell on Belgrade.

4. It’s a way to avoid using public bathrooms.

5. They’ve seen the movie Signs and rooted for the Aliens. (Spoiler! But really, it came out 8 years ago.)

What’s strange is that people don’t have problems drinking anything else in large portions. The bottles pictured here were purchased at a local takeaway kiosk. The “large” water is considered enough for two people. The beer next to it is for one person (one liter) and the other one is the larger size (2 liters) they sell at the kiosk. The vendor didn’t blink when I bought the beer, but when I drank half of another bottle of water in three gulps I thought I heard an audible gasp.

Belgrade, I can’t step up when you expect me to buy kilos of vegetables, a cevap sandwich the size of my head, or a beer that rivals a Big Gulp.  But when it comes to water, I will drink you under the table.


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