05 June 2011

....a great lunch.

..To get a break from work, I walked into a restaurant primarily to collect my thoughts and also grab a bite. The area has a large international population and Spanish speaking outnumbers everybody else, just like almost every other metro downtown in the US generally is these days. By the door, they had put up pictures of how food looked like - I spotted the one in banana leaves and seeing my curiosity, the people at the table understood that I may not understand Spanish and was quick to explain the food. How warm I thought ! I did not even ask , because there was nobody else to be spotted around.

The restaurant was more a hole in the wall and I waited impatiently for the restaurant owner/waiter to turn up. A woman with blondish red hair appeared and in Spanish motioned me to sit at any table . She apologized to me that she spoke little or no English and our warm guests on the other table continued to translate for me. The owner apologized again for not speaking English ! Growing up, I heard many languages in my neighborhood and was accustomed to non-English speakers ...The idea of not speaking English was not foreign to me, because as a child the first langauge I spoke was not English.

Why should she apologize for not speaking English? In essence America was not an English speaking country before the Europeans came on the shores. Most of the Europeans who came to the US knew polish, dutch, german,italian and their respective native languages. When I was in Zurich recently and the receptionist at the hotel did not speak English fluently either. Finding a way to communicate, I thought I might practice the little french I knew. She said she didn't speak French, which surprised me, because I went by the fact that Europeans know many languages,which she did . She spoke - Italian, swiss-german, Portugal and Spanish and broken words of English to get by !

And wouldn't you like to know what I ate - Tuna and mashed raw banana in spices steamed in banana leaves with Tamarind/Tomato salsa ! Can it get better than this? I was greateful.

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