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Anybody Borsec? A study in the power of habit

“Borsec” is an exceptionally tasteful and refreshing natural mineral water, originating from a very picturesque mountainous region of Romania, surrounding the famous spa named, yes you guessed, Borsec. Mineral water sources are in abundance in Romania and popular tradition and lore supported by medical research has contributed to a widespread culture and life style of treatment spas, where the curing properties of the waters were known and used for centuries, against any imaginable human ailment.
Even in the austere and restrictive old communist days, a large amount of the population benefited for free or a token contribution from the public health policies that funded treatments in these spas, for both needy and even not so needy people. A typical 18 day doctor recommended treatment, included a full package of rather modest accommodation and food, but on the other hand, a lavish splurge of bathing in mineral water pools and tubs, and equally the drinking of the water, in a mysterious sequence and in precisely prescribed amounts. The whole ritual of walking around and stopping to drink at the fountains, in the splendid natural surroundings meeting and chatting with happy and relaxed people, hoping to feel better and stronger by each day, was all that was needed to rejuvenate or cure almost anybody from anything. In earnest, without any doubt, the medically proven health benefits are real, undeniable.

Oh yes, and let’s not forget one more very important thing for human happiness, and this is ROMANCE! Not just any kind, but the spa-specific one. Anyone who spent a treatment vacation in one of those mineral water spas would have either experienced or witnessed some form of romantic self-prescribed complementary treats, if not treatment. As strange as it sounds, the ubiquitous dimpled, cracked enamel, chain secured metal mugs filled with mineral water, raised for “cheers” by two like minded people, could create as much of a romantic ambiance as two crystal glasses of fine wine.
The relaxing effect is similar and people that formed a soul binding and are already attracted to each other may foster further thoughts of body binding, as well.
This is a very pleasant, if at times risky reality of the spa-resort scene, and may create long lasting memories.
For all these reasons, the drinking of certain mineral waters by the connoisseurs, conjures images of beautiful nature, good health, opportunistic romance, and is not only recharging the batteries of health and well being, but is also fueling the mental escapism of romantic memories, fending against the future with its unavoidable stress.

For the amateur, dilettante, occasional mineral water drinker, the expectations from this very mundane activity will not go beyond a thorough thirst quenching and possibly a hearty, relieving series of loud belching.

It is very common to see people browsing endlessly in the liquor store aisles and looking, picking-up, inspecting, examining various bottles of wine and ogling at their labels.
The same activity in the mineral bottle aisles is much less common, but much more suspicious, and now we know why. They are not buying just water, but also some personal history. The bubbles have more than CO2. They have memories..

I was recently in a Russian ethnic food store that carries products from many other former eastern bloc European countries. I immediately noticed the easily recognizable light blue plastic bottles of “Borsec” and my heart started pounding. Extraordinary memories of a very special romantic experience from my youth, from an exceptionally beautiful place. Sorry I forgot to mention the Borsec water. Absolutely outstanding in taste, too. They also had waters from Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, and Georgia. I quickly loaded 4 bottles of Borsec into my little cart, when I noticed a middle aged man with a heavy moustache and dark eyes, standing next to me. He just picked from the shelf a green bottle of Borzhomi, the famous mineral water from Georgia. What struck me though, was the peculiar way he was holding that bottle with both hands, close to his chest, almost like a baby and was looking at it for a while, with a mild grin, as if it was human.
When he noticed me, he looked into my cart with the four bottles and asked:” what kind if water is that?” I said : “It is Borsec, great stuff”. He continued:” Where is that from ?” and I answered :”From Romania” and he asked: “is it good?” and I said “not only good, it is really the best”, He continued: “So, is it really so good?”
And I said “for God’s sake, try one, it’s only $ 1.70”. He just stared at me, so I asked him, what kind of water did he buy. He said “It is Borzhomi, from Georgia” and instinctively brought it closer to his chest, as in a childish gesture of protection. So I asked him if it was good, even though I knew that it was so. He looked at me briefly in disbelief, than nodded approvingly a few times and his eyes started wandering blankly as if he fell in deeper thought. I told him to try Borsec anyway and he just smiled friendly. I left for some shopping in the store, and ten minutes later I was checking out at the cashier, when I noticed the Georgian man standing behind me.
I just glanced furtively into his shopping cart. It had four bottles of Borzhomi! And nothing else….Naturally I did not say anything.
I was both disappointed and amused and the only thing that come to my mind was paraphrasing an old English saying: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”, but you my dear Georgian-Gruzin friend “You can have your damn Borzhomi water and drink it too!

by George Kun    10/5/2006


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