Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s just frustrating.Posted: November 20, 2011
The above sentences ran through my mind at a restaurant the other day as I frowned at my plate full of snack sized sweet-pickles the waitress set in front of me… I thought I had ordered a salad.
It ran through my head again when I went to visit my neighbor one evening. I knocked and knocked on her front door until finally a little boy, terrified, pulled back the curtain and just looked up at me. I’d been knocking on her neighbor’s son’s bedroom window. We’ll be good friends one day, I’m sure of it. Ha. To be fair, it was a really big window…
After being here a little over six weeks I’ve come to a very important realization. Nothing here is COMPLETELY different… it’s just all slightly off. I mean, it’s not like that waitress was serving me cow brains or anything (thank the Lord). I’ve eaten a pickle before. I just would never think to order a plate of them as an appetizer.
A more-frustrating-than-funny crosscultural confusion happened a couple of days ago at the store. A day care from my hometown offered to collect an offering to buy craft supplies for kids here to make Christmas ornaments at an English club Christmas party we’re volunteering at this Friday. They asked if I could get paper plates here to make little angels, and I quickly said, “Ohhh, yeah! I’m sure!”. Well, three days later, after checking the most promising stores, I was still paperplate-less. I went into a school supply store looking for a different part of the craft (yarn), and there, hidden under piles of paper and other supplies was a beautiful stack of paper plates. Unfortunately, I don’t know the word for ”paper” or “plates” in Hungarian, so the clerk and I had a little pointing/grunting match until she finally handed me one paper plate, and showed me the handwritten price on the back. 20 forint. (About 10 cents). I smiled and said I wanted 100. Her jaw literally dropped open. So, we stood there counting out all 97 of their individually priced paper plates. So, 1,940 forint (about $10) later, I walked out of that store with just under 100 precious paper plates.
So, next time you eat a lettuce-included salad, successfully knock on your neighbor’s front door, or eat off of your dirt-cheap paper plate, think of me sitting (confused) Here in Hungary. Okay?