Wednesday, 5 September 2007

A frustrating day

Horror of horrors, I've managed to break the camera! You really can't leave me alone for a moment. The dial which operates the zoom lens appears to have become disconnected somehow (possibly connected to spilt fruit juice of some description). This is really irritating, because it means I can't take pretentious close up photos like this one:



On the way back from work yesterday I popped into the Kodak shop on Starowislna (having taken the precaution of arming myself with copious vocabulary from dict.pl: useful things like zoom lens, doesn't work, switch on/off, spilt, sticky, stupid foreign poser, etc.).
The girl at the desk looked at it and then called the guy from the back room. He looked at it, switched it on and off, cleaned the lens, and then told me I'd have to go to the Kodak service centre (he drew a detailed map on the back of their business card).

So, today, desperate to continue posing with my new (broken) toy, I set out from the office to try to find the other shop. As before, there was a bit of rain but luckily my parents (when I met them in Scotland two weeks ago) equipped me with a Proper Raincoat for tackling precipitations of varying intensities.

There is a street in Krakow (and in most other Polish towns- as I found to my confusion in Wrocław) called ulica Długa. This means 'long street'. This afternoon I found out exactly how true this was. After much circling, I found a camera shop which appeared to be on the right street. I approached the desk. But no. It was the Wrong Kind of camera shop. I asked the girl at the counter how to get to the address described on the business card, taking great care not to let slip that I had little clue as to what she was saying. I have more or less given up trying to understand everything in Polish now: my current survival strategy is to fake it as well as I can and hope my guess is more or less accurate. Anything rather than have them speak English to me: this generates deep feelings of shame, probably linked to a desire not to be associated with the beer-swilling British stag parties slobbering all over the Rynek.
In any case, directions are not so complicated (left/right/'some park'/'some large building', etc), and the management in this shop clearly offered much better map-drawing skills training to their employees than in the Kodak establishment.
Finally, after much wandering, I crossed the Aleja and found myself standing at the right street number.

The service centre remains closed until 07/09.

Coffee: I can order coffee in Polish now, it's not so complicated. You say 'prosze', and then you say what you want, remembering the accusative ending if it's a feminine noun. If you want to get technical, you can add simple extras like 'with milk', 'no sugar', 'ice on the side', 'hold the mayo', 'and a vodka chaser please' etc.
There is a coffee shop in Kraków called 'Out of Africa' [I accept bank transfers and PayPal], which serves Coffee Exclusively. It's really cool, with exciting rooms which lead into one another, and bags of coffee beans in a shop at the back. And a piano with a candle on the lid (although this tends to impede spontaneous improvisation). And tea chests to sit on.
The menu is almost half an inch thick, and more securely bound than my MA dissertation. Instead of listing different drinks, it lists coffees of different origins, along with a brief description of their flavour (kind of like wine tasting), in Polish of course.

- What does one normally order here?
I asked
- Oh, I don't pretend to know about these things: normally I tell the waitress how I like coffee to taste and ask for her advice.

Now, I have no problem getting a cappuccino in Polish, but asking a waitress to recommend a particular blend to me on the basis of the different flavour attributes and percentage of Arabica is totally beyond me. How do you describe coffee anyway? I'm guessing 'oaky', 'full-bodied' or 'overtones of forest fruits' would be inappropriate in this context.

The waitress approached, and I was still helplessly flipping through the menu-thesis, trying to think, quickly, of something I could order so as not to let on that I had No Idea about coffee or indeed Polish.

Finally, I went for the simple option: Get Polish Friend To Do It For You.
This is absolutely cheating and I do not condone it in any way. Clearly it would be far more productive if I were simply to continue pretending (although this is a risky strategy when ordering consumable goods). I'll have to go back on my own for a re-match.

In the meantime, I shall compile a coffee glossary (much more fun than the internal combustion engine) and look for a phrasebook called 'The foreign poser's guide to faking it in Poland'.

2 comments:

The Dad said...

Can't wait for the next instalment of the Camera saga, given my potential financial interest in the outcome - hopefully the shop will be a bit easier to find next time! But on the positive side, the camera did last 2 weeks and a lot of photos before it broke, so all has not been lost. In particular there are of course some spectacular photos of St Andrews, not forgetting the atmospheric street lamps in Krakow

pinolona said...

The saga continues...