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A Cocktail of Cultures and Language

I am writing this while sitting at a Chinese/Thai restaurant near home here in Lido di Ostia.

When I awoke this morning after my huuuuuuge day yesterday exploring Rome, I was ravenously hungry and decided, rather than face the massssses of people at the various markets (that are delightfully all within two blocks of home), to come here for some fresh-tasting  Thai food for an early lunch (I slept through breakfast, LOL!).

Actually, as an aside, as much as it is lovely to go to market on Saturday morning and buy my fresh fruits, vegetables, meats etc, I really don’t enjoy crowds (I wanted to pay everyone yesterday to leave Rome for the day so I could explore without the masses!) so while I may do the occasional market day while I am here (still here another two months), I have found my alternative-to-the-markets places to do my shopping.

So, back to the restaurant…  When I walked in, I was greeted by a little Asian lady who showed me to my table – with French serenades playing in the background!

Quite a cocktail of cultures and languages.  While I have occasionally found Chinese and Thai in the same restaurant, I have not had the waitress speaking another language and the sound system playing yet another!  🙂  I love it!   🙂

I am doing my best to only use Italian while I am here – my Italian is veeeery limited, but I figure the only way to improve it is to use it…

So far so good and I was seated and managed to understand and correctly respond to all initial questions.

Then, when she came back to take my order, I asked (in the best Italian I could muster) if they could do chicken (pollo) with one particular dish instead of beef (manzo)?  Her response to this and all subsequent questions was, “si, si” followed by a long and very fast diatribe in Italian and although I asked her to slow down (lentamente) she continued at the speed of light in Italian and finished with, “bene, si?”

I have no idea what was so bene (good) but I figured, ‘when in Rome’ so replied, “si, bene.  Grazie!”  🙂

…and what arrived was exactly what I had attempted to explain in Italian – and it was sooooooo good that I ordered another portion to take home for tomorrow!

…and before you think I was getting rather carried away with an entire bottle of wine at lunch, they are both miniatures (kinda)… (and do not pay attention (yes, I know, by saying that you are paying attention) to the fact that my nails are in a dreadful state.  There was a nail salon just around the corner however they moved just before I arrived and it was only yesterday I discovered their new location – so I am essentially nail-less until I go and visit them – but the upside is that I do type faster with basically no nails and Bridgit, appreciates that!  Btw, speaking of Bridgit (who I finally – after weeks of leaving her there – managed to get out of the oil-covered water of the Loire Estuary and back on to dry land… (and if that doesn’t mean anything to you, they I suggest you read the first book!  LOL!), I am almost finished the second of the Quantum Lace book series – a whole month ahead of schedule!)

When the lovely lady returned to ask me if everything was ok and gave me my bill, I said I was paying with card and my understanding of her response surprised me.

She talked for what seemed like ages (in Italian and very fast, even for Italians!) and yet, I think I understood exactly what she was saying – and she wasn’t even making hand gestures to help in the explanation – she was just standing and talking very fast…

She said, the essence of “that’s ok – finish your wine and water – I will take your card at the front when you are leaving – you can pay your bill then – enjoy your food at home – stay and enjoy your wine – no need to hurry – take your time – si, bene?”

“Si, bene – grazie!” was my reply – and I felt molto bene for having understood!  At least, I am pretty sure I understood all that.  She may have been saying “we only take cash – get lost!”  🙂

I will publish this when I get home and give a postscript to let you know the answer…


OK, so I am now home but before leaving the restaurant I met a fascinating woman who speaks FIVE languages (see, I told you this was a cultural cocktail of a post!) and who I think is the daughter of the lovely Asian woman who seated me.

We talked for ages (in English in case you are wondering) and have agreed to get together again soon.

It’s funny…  Just last night I was thinking that it is strange I have been here for a while and not made any new friends – and then, hey presto!

~ Bella


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