The Nice Thing About Strangers

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

Wandering and Mispronunciation

A friend asked me, “What did you do in Krakow?” I smiled to myself because my chief activity was wandering. I walked for hours in random directions. I sat in parks to people watch. I saw a boy kicking leaves like an endless supply of soccer balls, lost in his own game, complete with sound effects. I spotted a young woman who also watched the boy and delighted at his happy solitude. She walked away wearing a broad, reflective smile with her hands deep in the pockets of her pale blue coat. Near my apartment, and through each neighborhood, I watched little oldsters go out on their balconies and lean. They leaned over the city, over their courtyard, over their pots of flowers or air-drying laundry.

My second hobby was church hopping. There are ceaseless Catholic churches in Krakow, so it was a delight to go from one to the next, exiting, looking left or right, and heading for the next steeple. In one small chapel, a nun came to me and handed me five plastic medals, then she gestured to the icon of Mary and Jesus and began to whisper a story. Random patches of the Croatian language were coming to me. I had been passing off the Croatian “goodbye” all week, though the Polish goodbye has a different pronunciation. I tried to say I didn’t understand, hoping it was a cognate to Polish: “Ne razumijem.” She nodded happily and tried to tell me her tale again, but with a bit more volume. I kept shrugging and putting my hand over my chest in apology as she kept on chatting and smiling. Finally, I started to laugh almost silently and she joined in.

It was a perfect, quiet, peaceful week full of surprising October sunshine. Next time, I’ll sigh off my balcony, learn a few more phrases, try to find the nun, and aim to translate my gratitude.

–Post-Krakow, Poland



11 comments on “Wandering and Mispronunciation

  1. suej
    October 27, 2014

    I love this story….life lived at a slower pace, lovely.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      October 29, 2014

      Wandering is my favorite way to spend an afternoon (of course, the wandering is usually also a sort of powerwalk, but still!). 🙂

      • suej
        October 29, 2014

        For me a wander is certainly not a powerwalk!!

  2. Bill Jones, Jr.
    October 27, 2014

    I’m sure your smile needed no translation.

  3. Bespoke Traveler
    October 27, 2014

    Wandering is always one of the best things to do in a destination. The other is finding a cozy cafe table where they let you pass the hours undisturbed.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      October 29, 2014

      I agree. I usually have a hard time selecting a cafe, so I make circles instead. Probably, people watch me go by and wonder where I’m hurrying off to this time. 🙂

  4. joannerambling
    October 27, 2014

    What a great story

  5. heavenhappens
    October 28, 2014

    I love Krakow. I have friends who live there and teach at the Uni. It is a wonderful place to just wander around. But there is such history too! Schindler’s museum is the most informative and moving place I have ever been. I think I blogged about it a year or so ago x

  6. M-R
    October 28, 2014

    Yours is the third enthusiastic post about Poland in the last week or so – that I’ve come across, I mean, Paige: I wish like anything we’d been there …

  7. Jane Catherine Rozek
    November 14, 2014

    Once with a simple vowel mispronunciation, I ordered eyeball soup instead of garlic soup. But I made a wonderful friendship with the waiter! Nice dialogue to your blog!

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This entry was posted on October 27, 2014 by in Blogging, Happiness, poland, Travel, Writing and tagged , , , , .

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