The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

My Carrot-Towel Confusion

He’s among a dozen men with stands to sell fruits and vegetables on the Naschmarkt. We’ve became pals because one day I tried to ask for carrots in Turkish and he laughingly handed me a towel: “Havlu?” I blinked at the towel and pointed to the orange roots nearby. “Havuç,” he corrected me and I sighed. He pointed at different veggies and asked me to name them. I failed miserably.  He loved every minute of it and sent me away with a free sack of fruit that could have fed a family of five. “I’m only one woman!” I exclaimed, and he laughed again.

This time, he won’t let me pay for my strawberries and pears. I keep trying to shove money at him as he walks away. The other men working at the stand watch with hands on their hips my helpless holding out of euros. “Brother,” I tell him in Turkish, “I really thank you, but I am buying this. Now.” His colleagues slap their legs and applaud. I scramble together another sentence saying it is very kind, but please! I threaten that I won’t come back if I can’t pay, and this has the whole staff in near hysterics.

“Go on, girl, go away then.” My benefactor wipes tears from his eyes as I hold up the untouched bill. “Next time you pay. Maybe. Next time,” he promises yet again.

–Vienna, Austria.

Naschmarkt, Vienna

12 comments on “My Carrot-Towel Confusion

  1. unpackedwriter
    January 30, 2013

    Love this little language fliratation in the market! A perfect illustration!

  2. chris13jkt
    January 30, 2013

    It happened frequently in foreign places, and for me, usually it ended up with a new friend 🙂

  3. gingerfightback
    January 31, 2013

    That is the best thing I’ve read all day! Thanks (And I’ve learned the Turkish for carrot!)

  4. Steven Wordsmith Lincoln
    February 1, 2013

    People are awesome if you let them be. Thanks for sharing.

  5. lagottocattleya
    February 2, 2013

    I can feel the moment…beautifully described!

  6. Winter Owls
    February 4, 2013

    What a fabulous experience to have, you are having such a wonderful time. 🙂

  7. shofar
    February 7, 2013

    Good photo, nice-looking vendor! Looks like you had a part creating a ruckus in the market that made everyone’s day!

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