Identity Crisis

May 25th, 2007



Dear Mum,

“Doctor, Doctor, no-one ever remembers me!”
“And you are..?”

You can walk into a lamp post. You can walk into a post office. Two different meanings of ‘into’ and ‘post’. There are numerous examples of this throughout the English language. Many words have several different meanings. But there is only one meaning for the word ‘kiosk’.

A kiosk is ‘a small building where things such as sweets, drinks or newspapers are sold through an open window’.

I suspect that the word ‘open’ is somewhat superfluous in that definition  –  try selling something through a closed window!

Kiosk hasn’t always had that meaning. The word is derived from Turkish, and originally meant a garden pavilion or summer-house-type-thingy  –  similar to what we would now call a gazebo, only much grander. But its meaning these days is quite clear. And I’m quite prepared to accept that the use of the word ‘inside’ in the next sentence may also be superfluous  –  tautological, even. But in the English language these days, a kiosk is a retail outlet that you can not enter inside.

Not in Cyprus!

The plethora of small supermarkets and off-licence / tobacconists / newsagents are all called kiosks.

[mental note  –  must find out what the actual kiosks on the sea-front are called]

The telephone kiosk is an exception of course (before you all start writing in), but because of the use of the word ‘telephone’ as an adjective describing the kiosk, you know where you stand. They’re all booths these days anyway.

I’ve digressed again. I seem to have a nasty habit of cutting a short story long!

Anyway, I’ve been living in my apartment in Larnaca since the beginning of November. That’s over six months now (hard to believe!). There are three small kiosks that I use regularly. One of them I probably visit on average two to three times a week. That’s a minimum of say, 60 visits.

One of the girls who works there has probably served me at the checkout 75% of those visits. That’s at least 45 times. We’ve often exchanged pleasantries and small-talk. So she knows me well…

But I clearly haven’t made much of an impression, because last Friday she spoke to me as if I was a complete stranger  –  and asked me if I was just here on holiday…!


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I was still puzzling over how many people can afford a six-month holiday, when I went to another kiosk where I buy the local paper regularly. The newspapers are all displayed on a stand outside the kiosk, and you simply help yourself and go inside and pay for it.

It’s owned by a Cypriot who’s served me many times in the last six or seven months. He knows me well…

I’d just selected a copy of the Cyprus Mail and was about to go inside and pay for it when he came out and ever so helpfully he pointed inside the shop and said,

You have to pay for it in there.

No sign of recognition whatsoever!


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

As a result of those two episodes I now have a severe inferiority complex to go with all my other psychological and emotional problems.

It’s enough to drive a man to drink!

Fortunately I know a nice little place where they know me well…


©MPB 25/May/2007


One Response to Identity Crisis

  1. jolly roger says:

    How do you do… the shops

    Don’t come again

    Everyone’s been to the shops, hold on, everyone’s been to the shops that isn’t currently the unfortunate offspring of Michael Jackson’s fish pond. Blanket, he sees no evil, yet feels some evil, that boy is an unwilling consumer of organics.

    …more at

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