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

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

wie bitte?

Marek dropped my hand and pushed open the door for me. I smiled at his Polish manners and walked into the half-full pub, loud groups of older Germans scattered about eating and drinking.

We chose an empty table near the back and helped ourselves to a menu. After a while, the waitress came over, apologising for having forgotten us and advising us to shout her over next time she abandoned us for too long. 'Dobrze,' I said loudly and instinctively. My hand shot to my mouth and I felt my cheeks burning. 'Um, gut, sehr gut,' I mumbled, catching the startled waitress' eye and hoping she'd think I was foreign rather than just plain weird. 

'Ein koelsch und ein hefeweizen bitte,' I annunciated clearly and slowly, checking each word was in the right language before I went on to the next. She smiled and went off to get our drinks.

Every conversation with the waitress after that was conducted with a serious expression and high levels of concentration. She clearly thought we were crazy foreign beings, with our staring eyes and yelps of success as the right vocabulary was located, but our approach worked. The meal was delicious - bratkartoffeln fried with just the right amount of onion and bacon; thick chunks of steak cooked to perfection and salads with that creamy herby dressing the Germans do so well. It all took me back to the last few years of school, when we'd been based in Bonn and I relied on my school-German to get me about and keep me and my friends supplied with beer and entertainment.

It still feels like home - familiar and comforting, with good old memories and plenty of freshly made new ones. The ordered systems of pfand and recycling are still pleasantly satisfying and the slow pace of life, where cycling along the river seems like the most natural way to pass a day is a welcome break from working life in Brussels. 

No matter how much like home it feels though, my automatic response to a question I haven't quite heard is still 'slucham?'

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Blogger Aaron Fowles said...

Mit Bier kann Mann Frei machen.

3:57 pm  

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