Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Traveller's Tale

I am just returned from Poland! I have one Polish reader, to whom I write:

Pozdrowienia! mieszkasz w pięknym kraju.

I will attach some photographs, to prove the point. 

I am not good with languages, although I travel a lot, and am ashamed of myself. I confess I have largely given up on anything but the most basic attempt. I manage by smiling a lot, pointing and saying, 'Please'. Forgive me Poland, but I couldn't even manage 'please'. The trick is, I have decided, to learn only one word. Then you are in no danger of making a mistake. My brain, on underdrive, decided that, 'tak' (yes) was 'thank you' . Could have been worse I suppose. 

One thing that travel has taught me is, that there's no need to be shy. The Polish people were patient, and kind, and I had no worries about heading off to the supermarket alone to shop for little things for my grandchildren. There was this delightful 'OH!!! ' moment when I realised that I now have a BOY to buy for too. 

I had a very clever strategy for the checkout. I thought I'd listen very carefully to the shopper in front of me, and repeat what she said on being handed change. This could have worked. I am determined to give it another go. But I did come a little unstuck when I quickly become aware that what was going forward was a discussion about giving the right money. I surmised this by observing my fellow shopper, a little disgruntled, returning  to her purse and fishing about amongst the shrapnel to pull out a few coins whilst changing one denomination of zyloty for another. I knew I was in trouble. To make matters worse, there was no polite exchange of pleasantries to conclude the transaction, so I was stuck with, 'Tak'.

Well, yes, I was subjected to the same procedure. So I smiled my most winning smile, adopted Received Pronounciation and said,

"i'm terribly sorry, but I'm English, you'll have to write that down." Whatever good I thought writing it down in Polish would have done, didn't occur to me at the time, but nevertheless, the cashier gave in without a fight. "Doesn't matter." She muttered, taking my 100z note, to which I replied, 'Tak'.

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