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
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.