HAM.BURGERS. It’s a low, long gravelly sound pronouncing unfamiliar vowels. The man speaking them feigns throwing his hat on the ground.


And he again feigns throwing his hat on the ground. He didn’t need to feign though. He drops it about four or five times anyway.

Where is the Halušky or pirohy? No. Ham.burgers. The second half of the word is layered with disdain. Layered like a hamburger.

HAM.BURGERS. And he feigns throwing his hat again.

I can’t agree with him more. But he doesn’t get that I’m agreeing with him. His name is Rocco and he’s from, wait for it, Slovakia. I explain that my name is Ryan and I’m from Australia. From this point on he believes I am from Sweden. No amount of correcting, writing or map showing will change his opinion on this.


We go silent for a while. I’m not sure if I want to drag this conversation out any more, but I can tell he’s expecting me to converse with him. So I do.

I point to the very steep Hrad Devín and ask if he climbed to the top. I know he can’t understand me, but he’ll get the gist of Hrad Devín: the only thing here and the only reason tourists come here.

He bursts into tears.

I mean proper tears. He is so upset right now. He tries to speak but he can’t. I have no idea what I asked him. But he is crying and crying. I pat him on the shoulder and he appears grateful. He gives me a lolly. He says is a Slovakian sweet. I open the wrapper: Eucalyptus Menthol. Slovakian eh? I’m pretty sure Eucalyptus is was originally only found in Australasia. Then again, I’m not sure a Swedish person would have known that.

The bus arrives. Thank fuck.

He sits next to me. Thanks for nothing, Fuck.

He says the world Biere and Pivo. Then Vino a lot. He says Slovakian wine is very good. He motions out the window towards things and says words. I decide to take the route I use with children who speak to me in strange languages.


And he talks some more.


¡Por que no!

And then he talks so more. I manage to use up most of the time of the bus trip back. Only the last couple of minutes are awkward. The only other useful fact I get from him is that he is 86. We get off the bus and now I understand what all the mentions of Beire and Pivo were. He wants me to have a beer with him. Or two. Or six. I decline. He isn’t happy. Perhaps the sweet was part of the deal. I decline my way out of it and then sneak off.


I kind of get what he meant. I ordered a "hamburger" and she asked if I wanted chips or salad. I said chips. I had ordered a cheese hamburger which was a slab of fried cheese. I got that, the fries and no salad. Or bread. It seems the bread part of the HAM.BURGER is part of the salad.


If I had a hat I would have thrown it to the ground.

when: Wednesday, May 21, 2014