Current. A noun. A large body of water or air moving in a definite direction, especially through a surrounding body of water or air in which there is less movement.
In Moldova, the word current brings with it a literal definition as well as a cultural connotation. "The Current" as many refer to the movement of air in a definite direction (most in the USA would refer to this as a breeze) is considered bad, sometimes terrible, and often invoking fear to those in its path. Why you may ask? Well, the current causes illness. It's to blame for everything from a scratchy throat and head cold to a stomach ache and chronic illness. Even if I become sick 2, 3 or even 6 weeks after the current "got me" it is still to blame. This is why public transportation is sweaty, sticky and breeze-less in the summer time. You see most of the elderly people of Moldova do not want the current to "get them" and so packed into small or large buses like sardines there will be no open windows or drafts of any kind. We really don't want to get sick... so we limit the air flow. To be honest I am more worried about catching TB than getting sick from some refreshing air movement. I suppose it's just one of those things you have to get used to in a new culture.
Trying to explain the ludicracy of the current to my host partner and host mom completely failed. All I could do was just laugh at their seriousness when explaining this phenomenon. So now every time I sniffle or sneeze, I know that rather than taking responsibility for walking in the pouring rain for hours without proper clothing, I can just blame it on the current! I wonder what they would think about tunnel ventilation?
Do you have any crazy cultural phenomenons to share from your travel experiences?