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playing password
By Dennis Batchelder 11 January 1999

Do you remember the game of password? You know, the TV show where you try to get the other person to guess the word by using other words.

That's what it's been like all over Eastern Europe. At least in Frankfurt and Vienna, most people know quite a bit of English. We can thank MTV for that. But out here (especially outside of the city), people know maybe a bit of German. Probably fluent Russian. But no English.

We stopped at this restaurant about 40 miles outside of Bratislava. Inside were these two waitresses. They were trying so hard to be helpful, but we had a real impasse. The menu was in Slovak. We recognized Coke, Beer, and Halusky. That was it.

So what to do? Luckily we had our trusty Slovak book. It has 50 phrases in it - How much is it, My name is..., I need a doctor. Also, words like yes, no, help.

Enough words for a game of Password, right? The waitress was waiting. I found the word for "spicy". Pointing to that, then pointing to the menu. After about 5 times, I think she got the point. She showed us about 5 dishes, saying "spicy" after each one.

Good, that was easy. We each ordered a spicy dish. See how easy this game is? Next: we wanted some more Kapusta and Halusky. That was easy to ask for. Or so we thought. We think she didn't want to get it for us. She borrowed the phrase book, and found the word for "exchange". Ah! She was asking us if we wanted to exchange the normal food for the cabbage and noodles! That's easy - we found the word for "yes". Ano. Then we found the word for "please". Prosim.

So the food came, and it was delicious. Very spicy, so we were both happy. What was it? Who knows? The stuff Latif calls "bush meat". And the cabbage/noodles were great too. All for 10 bucks.

The waitresses learned to say "goodbye". We learned to say "thanks". And we left, feeling very successful with our Password game.

So we get in our car and turn on the headlights. Two dogs run up to the front of the restaurant, and one gets on top of the other. Right in front of our car on the steps to the restaurant. We are the lucky witnesses of X-rated canine activities.

I flick the high beams on and off a few times. Which makes everyone in the parking lot start laughing. No translations necessary - some things just transcend the game of Password.



playing password - slovakia