A Day Without Vowels

Ever wonder what it would be like to live in a world where only consonants make up your entire alphabet? Then come to Poland. They have even less than the Serbs.

My first day in this world has been pretty spectacular. Despite waking up at 7am with the Swine Flu, I was in pretty great spirits as I went in search of ibuprofen and vitamin C. While most aptekas were not open yet, I did stumble upon a grocery store near my apartment in Old Town Warsaw.

Wearing my new, violet, semi-gloss, puffy winter coat, I felt protected against the Polish. . . (it’s hilarious, when I’m typing this, I keep accidentally leaving out the vowels—no joke! The previous sentence said, “pffy wnter cot, i fel prtctd against the Plish”) Anyway, I felt protected against the Polish elements, which this morning included fog, mist, drizzle, wind, and chill) but was still cheered to see the warm lights of a little shop beckoning me. Having not eaten since breakfast the day before, I probably should have been hungry, but I went into the shop more out of curiousity.

I felt like I was entering Disneyland! My gaze first landed on a glass-domed refrigerated case full of pork sausages and cold cuts, dairy products, and pierogi. As I headed towards it, I did a double-take when out of the corner of my eye I saw the potato chip display!! It occupied a space that was fully ¼ of the store! I was so completely overwhelmed by choice, as well as embarrassed by the prospect of buying 50 bags of potato chips before sunrise, that I just casually walked by it with a whistle. After purusing the dried fruit and nut selection, I returned back to the chips and controlled my urge to buy every flavor. I settled instead on two: Chakalaka (African spice) and Butter and Mushroom.

All jokes about visiting my ‘homeland’ aside, I really do feel connected to this place somehow. I don’t think it is just the idea that heavy potato chip consumption runs in my blood. The people are unfriendly without being rude, which I can appreciate. The girls aren’t afraid to wear too much makeup. The light here at this time of year is stark and harsh—we need that mask! But also, after living in Turkey where you trade privacy for warm-blooded neighborliness, being here allows me a way to blend in without losing sight of who I am. If I could learn how to maneouver my tongue around all those consonants, I might really feel at home.


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