So, I’ve been here for almost two weeks now and what a hectic time it has been! Certainly a baptism of fire on the language front, starting with an at first delighted then baffled taxi driver from the airport to the flat. Delighted that as a foreigner I was stumbling through my directions in Croatian, baffled as it swiftly became clear I have no obvious connection with this nation in any way, shape or form. You see there are about 8 million Croatian-speakers scattered about the world, half in the nation itself and the rest to be found in various far-flung corners of the globe. Not quite large enough an economic presence to warrant the subjugation of school children everywhere to the delights of imperfective and perfective verbs.
However, of these 8 million Croatian speakers, about 99.99999% have some sort of link to the place be it family, significant others or simply the good fortune to be born here. I fall into the 0.000001% of people who are trying to learn this language without the incentives of patriotism, familial love or outright lust for one of Croatia’s citizens. In short, I pose somewhat of a quandary to the locals. And most other people for that matter. And, if the truth be told, myself as well occasionally.
Nonetheless, international wannabe scholar of mystery that I am, I sallied onwards, got to the flat safely and emerged the following morning in a haze of ‘flu and bunged-up ears. Image you lived in a bottle that was at the bottom of a deep puddle and were trying to listen to the world from that perspective. Now imagine the world only spoke a Slavic language of which your grasp was tenuous at best, enthusiastic and ill-placed at most. Not the most fortuitous of situations but one that I am sure provided much comedy for the locals. The disease had also done something to my balance so I was staggering around town like a Geordie in Faliraki after a large one at “Stavros’ Den of Iniquity”. In my case though, it was straight to the suffering without the pleasurable preamble of lashings of grog. Oh joy.