Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


When I first arrived in Poland and the language was still just a hissing spluttering mess of sounds, I tried to avoid putting myself in situations that might require human interaction, which is reasonably difficult for me.

I'd avoid going into shops where you had to ask for the products, and stuck to mini supermarkets, where I could fill my basket and then present the checkout person with whatever the till told me it had cost.

Now though, the language has settled down into a mixture of words I understand and some I don't with an intonation that is no longer startlingly abrupt but familiar, so I don't go so far out of my way to avoid people.

I walked back from town yesterday through our local market, and decided that today the was the day to take my Polish in both hands and offer it up as generously as all the old ladies, who will chat with anyone.

I took up my position behind a woman buying apples and heard her discuss the various benefits of this crisp apple, and that soft pear. The jolly round man serving her listened with a concentrated look on his face, correcting her if his apples did not fit her preconceptions. I noted how she took her time, chatting with the man as if they were discussing important political issues, and getting exactly what she needed.

When it was my turn, and the lady in front of me was packing her apples into her bag, I collected together all my courage and rather than pointing and mumbling, said 'I'd like to make a Szarlotka, so I need antonówka apples right?' The man frowned in concentration. 'Oh yes, but you could also try these', he said, pointing at some others that looked rather similar. 'Oh, I don't know then' I said, wondering if this engaging in dialogue had been such a good idea after all, and trying to look decisive. The lady before me, who was still packing up her purchases chimed in and saved me with 'no, Pani's right, antonówka apples are best'. The man, clearly keen to regain his supreme position as stallholder and fount of expert apple knowledge agreed with 'yes, they aren't so sour' and nodded. 'Right!' I said. 'I'll have two kilos please.'

Rather pleased with myself for my interaction with two whole people, I was startled to find the man frowning at me. 'Didn't Pani buy apples here before?' he asked. I definitely never had, but he seemed quite sure so I said, 'er, maybe'.

'I thought Pani was going to tell me how the cake turned out last time.' he said handing over my apples with a grin. 'No,' I said, 'that wasn't me. Next time though, I'll tell Pan how the cake turns out.' He laughed a big hearty laugh and said, 'yes, do!' and I walked away feeling disproportionately pleased with myself.

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Anonymous Anonymous said... the way Becca ,do you know kevin Aiston the alcoholic fireman from england ,lol ?


9:26 pm  
Blogger Aaron Fowles said...

I forgot what tell was...zainformowac?

I remember the pickle guy in Krakow. A buddy and I were there buying pickles. He tonged them slowly, very slowly, into a plastic bag. Halfway through, noticing our impatience, he gave us each a free pickle. Our nerves were assuaged by it's tartness.

12:53 am  
Blogger Becca said...

Anon, not personally no, but I've seen him on the tv and you really should read more newsworthy stuff than what the mirror spews out :-)

Aaron, I said 'powiem Pana jak zrobię' and he seemed to understand! The pickles are ALWAYS worth waiting for.

10:03 am  

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