Amongst Albanians, it is widely known that there is an invisible, silent, deadly force of nature, out to get anybody in its path. It’s called, “the kurent”...or, as I might call it, “a lovely summer breeze.”
Our first encounter with this tale was during our first summer here. We were speaking with a shopkeeper, trying to discuss the hot, unbearable weather. We enthusiastically shared that we bought a fan to help fight the heat (only, not so eloquently, as at that point, we were just beginners in Albanian). But he became very serious and warned us not to aim the air directly on us, or we might get sick. He instructed that we must shoot the fan at the ceiling or a wall.
In another case, we were packed in un-air-conditioned furgon (a large van used for public transportation) that was over crowded with hot,sweaty, stinky bodies in the middle of summer. Someone dared to open a window. For a brief second, I thought there might be relief from our misery! But to my dismay,the window-opener was quickly rebuked by another passenger because the breeze would make her toddler catch a cold!
Another time, I had a friend and her baby over at my house for an afternoon. Again, it was one of those famously hot days (we lived in a brick building on the fifth floor...the perfect recipe to make our apartment feel like an oven). As soon as we got in the house, I opened all of the windows and a wonderful refreshing breeze went sailing through the apartment. However, my bliss was short lived, as my guest insisted that I could only have one window open, otherwise the vicious “kurent” would make her baby sick (and turning on the fan was absolutely out of the question!!).
And yesterday, I heard the ultimate consequence of the "kurent." Here’s the following conversation Steve and I had with a taxi driver...
Taxi driver: “It’s too bad about Javo!”
(Javo is a friend of ours from church who had a double by-pass heart surgery this last weekend.)
Us: “Yes it is, but did you know that Javo had his operation on Sunday? He’s still in the hospital, but he’s okay now!”
Taxi driver (in a very condemning voice): “Well, it’s his own fault!! It’s his own fault!”
Us (shocked): “Why?”
Taxi Driver: “Because three years ago he bought a motorcycle and he rides it with an open shirt!”
So let this be a warning to you all...beware of THE KURENT!!