Last night, I had dinner with four of my new colleagues from the Incest Trauma Center at an outdoor restaurant on a long esplanade full of other packed little restaurants. I ate some kind of delicious spicy Serbian sausage and a small salad. I couldn’t believe the size of the meat portions–talk about Super Size Me!
Looking at the menu, I realized right away: watch out if you don’t eat meat and dairy in Serbia! I’m glad I’m an omnivore when I travel.
Before I arrived, I had gone online to read about what foods are typical in Serbia, and there were lots of meats, including things rarely eaten in the US anymore–like veal–and tons of cheeses. The article said, “Don’t expect to lose weight while you are in Serbia.” Now I know why.
My spicy sausages were wonderful and I ate them all.
At the table beside us in the crowded restaurant was a group of six or eight men, who, by their behavior, had clearly already had a lot to drink. A band of roving musicians focused at the guys at the table, squeezing around them and playing enthusiastically. The men obliged by singing along, incredibly off-key, and then one or another would get up and dance. I assume they were also stuffing tips in the pockets of the musicians.
I asked my table mates: “Is this normal or are they drunk?”
They all laughed and Stanislava, sitting beside me–who is my translator, said, “This is just the beginning. It’s still daylight.”
And she was right. As the night went on, the music got louder, the men got wilder, and conversation (at our table) became very difficult. But it was fun and lively and I thoroughly enjoyed the chaotic reverie–on a Monday night of all things.
The other thing about last night was that I have been a little nervous about communicating across language differences.
Last night three of my new colleagues spoke English and one didn’t, and whenever Lily spoke, and it was something she thought I would want to hear, Stanislava would lean over and translate a sentence or two of what Lily had said. It was relaxed and effortless and completely informal, and I could see that this was going to be easy.
We laughed a lot over dinner and I realized that there is a lot more to camaraderie and communication than words.