May 14th, 2007
I went to the Meeting Pub in Larnaca last night where I had the obligatory two pints of Keo. Just as I was about to leave, the barmaid told me that someone had just bought me another drink, which she poured and put in front of me. Fair enough. There was no hurry. There never is! So I drank the third pint and left.
I opened the door and stepped outside. It was about 11pm and there were quite a lot of people about. A woman in her thirties saw me emerging from the bar and immediately shouted “Taxi?” at me.
I hate it when people do that! When they throw a word at you which is totally out of context. When they make you stop and have to think. Because after three pints, your thought processes definitely slow down a bit.
My first thought was that she was asking me if I wanted a taxi. But no, it couldn’t be that. She was British. She must be a tourist. So she’s not asking me if I want a taxi, she’s asking me if I AM a taxi? Or at least, if I’m a taxi driver. But why me? Of all these people, why me? Do I look like a Cypriot taxi driver? She’s just seen me leaving a bar. Does she really want a driver who’s been drinking? Or maybe she’s just being economical with words and the whole sentence should have been, “Do you know where I can get a taxi please, you gorgeous hunk?”
The delay before I answered probably wasn’t as long as it felt. But I do have to confess that it was taking me a while to work it out.
I said something dumb like “You’re looking for a taxi?”
“Yes”, she said, “there’s all these taxis parked along the street and no drivers.”
I couldn’t fault her on that one. There are always lots of taxis parked along the street right here with no drivers. That’s because they’re all sitting in the taxi office. The taxi office right behind her. The taxi office with the word TAXI in big letters, which was hovering right above her head from where I was standing. All she had to do was turn round…
There was no easy way to provide the information she was seeking without making her feel stupid! And she was certainly going to feel stupid when I showed her the taxi office.
But it had to be done. And I freely admit that I enjoyed doing it…
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My route home took me past another bar that hasn’t banned me yet, so I popped in and had a couple of glasses of lemonade (watered down with brandy), and then went home about midnight.
On my way home a car pulled up, and the female occupant wound down the window and asked me something in Greek. Whatever it was she said, it was a very long sentence. I thought she’d never stop! But she was very attractive, and I immediately fell in love.
Having had a couple more drinks since my earlier experience, I felt like being a bit more helpful this time. Hell, that’s not true. How can it be? I don’t speak Greek. I didn’t have a clue what she’d just asked me, so how could I possibly help her? Maybe I was just in that sort of mood…
I do have a few Greek words in my vocabulary, and now seemed like a perfect opportunity to try one of them out and impress her with my command of the Greek language. But which one should I use?
It was probably a bit too early in our relationship to throw Saghapo (I love you) at her!
Likewise with Ise omorfi (you’re beautiful), Ehete thomatio? (do you have a room?), and Poso kanei? (how much is it?).
‘Yassou’ (hello/goodbye), ‘Efharisto’ (thank you), ‘Nero’ (water) and ‘Peragolo’ (please) weren’t going to be any use. I couldn’t see Good Morning, Good Evening or Good Night being particularly helpful either. And try as I might, I couldn’t see how I was going to squeeze Hippopotamus or Rhododendron into the conversation.
What else did I know? How about one of my ‘useful phrases’?
‘Pou ine i toualetes?’ (where’s the toilet?). ‘Thelete na horepsete mazi mou?’ (would you like to dance with me?). Or maybe she was a fan of Monty Python – ‘To hoverkraft mou ine gemato helia’ (my hovercraft is full of eels).
She was still looking at me inquisitively, waiting for a reply. Quick! Got to say something. Anything!
I was left with either ‘Ne’ (yes) or ‘Ochi’ (no).
So I took a gamble and said “Ne”.
She said “Efharisto” and gave me a big smile, looking as happy as Punch as she wound up the window, drove off, and turned left at the next corner.
It’s so nice to be able to help people. And in a foreign language too…!
Cheers logo courtesy of Charles-Burrows-Charles Productions
‘My hovercraft is full of eels’ borrowed from Monty Python’s Hungarian Phrase Book sketch