Eastern European Word Games
Trip Start Apr 17, 2001
279Trip End Ongoing
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I glanced at the bottle of beer in my hand. It was about 30 minutes before breakfast and I was cold. I was sitting on the outer deck of a hovercraft, skipping down the Danube. Across from me sat a guy with a crew cut. He was staring at me with an ear to ear grin. His glasses were coke bottle thick and he wore a bright yellow track suit - a digital camera hung from his neck. Aside from being able to introduce himself he seemed to speak no English. His name was Hiro and he'd taken to me like a puppy.
Ellen and I had spent the previous night in a stuffy little room of a Pension in the heart of Vienna. A night of tossing and turning, before falling into a deep sleep at around 4:00AM had caused us to almost miss our wake-up call. We arrived at the Danube docks just as the gang-plank was being raised. In no time we were speeding down the river in the slender tube-like, glass enclosed hovercraft, heading for Bratislava, Slovakia, Ellen's ancestral homeland.
Hiro and I were the only smokers on-board it seemed - banished to the cold, wet outer deck. Hiro had bought me the beer, I think, because he was alone in a strange land. I had accepted it to be polite. Shivering, I looked in through the glass enclosure and saw Ellen warmly leafing through a copy of Der Spiegel.
I turned to Hiro and was about to say, Thanks for the beer. It was nice meeting you, I'm cold and I'm going inside now, when he said.
"Do you like theatre?" I couldn't believe the clarity in his pronunciation. Had Hiro been faking our communication void?
Apprehensively I said, "Why yes Hiro, as a matter of fact we have very good theatre in Canada." I explained that just outside Niagara Falls, in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake there is excellent theatre, to commemorate the works of George Bernard Shaw. Hiro smiled, as I continued. I told him about our Shakespearean Festival in Stratford and got an even broader smile. I explained that Toronto had the third largest theatre district in North America - behind New York and Chicago.
At this Hiro cut in, and with a very serious look on his face said, "Ah, theatre very much like Chicago".
I looked at him and said, "Hiro, what the fork are you talking— ", then stopped for a moment to think through his words. "Hmmm, theatre, seatre...Yes Hiro," I said, "Seattle is very much like Chicago. Are you ready? It's my turn to buy."