Living in Germany, speaking fluent German, I really did not realize for long how it is to travel in a country, where one cannot communicate.. As I have started travelling more to distant places, I’ve realized it is quite fun and, at times, very touching. One recent case is being recounted here…
So, on the way from Interlaken to Paris, we started hunting for a restaurant, where we could stop for lunch. That’s how we ended up in the small town near the Franco-Swiss border. The first attempt at a bistro drew a blank…Well, they only had cheese sandwiches to offer. We were sure we could find something better. The guy from the bistro (quite generously) directed us towards this bakery (boulangerie)… The bakery also did not have anything substantial vegeterian. The nice, old lady at the bakery kept rattling away at us gaily in French, despite our non-plussed looks…I kept throwing at her phrases like “je veux faim”, “legumes”, “fromage”, “non boeuf”, and other disconnected words…stuff I had picked up from a French colleague over office lunches. Eventually, we just ordered some croissants, confiture, and tea.
It was an exercise to beat the hunger more than anything else. But it was the warmth of the lady behind the counter that I remember the most. Just the effort she invested in understanding us, not getting impatient, and, more importantly, not making us feel like fools (and I have had those experiences as well). Connected by nothing, but just smiles and gestures and broken words. Its one of those priceless aspects of travel – to be connected in absence of shared language, or discovering that the shared language binding people is deeper than the spoken word. Too late I realized that I should have gotten a picture taken with her, but I came away with this picture of her pretty bakery.
And, so, I left Audincourt probably with a half-full tummy, but with a smile on my face and a fuzzy glow in my heart.