Saturday, 13 September 2008

Ναι, δεν έχουμε καμία μπανάνα! *

On small Greek islands, small events often blossom into big dramas. The following occurrence, in which were involved, was recorded by a friend, who - out of discretion - I will call Ο Βιβλιοθηκονόμος (The Librarian):

Greek phrase books never have what you need. A few years ago a friend found herself at the reception desk of an Athens hotel needing to say: "My husband with all our luggage is stuck in your revolving door."

I was reminded of this by a recent incident...

A group of four English visitors are returning to their village in a hire car when they espy the travelling vegetable van near an isolated house. Needing fresh fruit and thinking that by the time he got to their village the best would have gone, they stop and two of the party make their purchases. At one stage, neither wanting a large hand of bananas, they play 'wishbones' with the bunch to divide it between them. The transactions completed, the van moves away while the party admires the view.

It is only as the van disappears round the next bend, that the car driver discovers he does not have the car key. The vehicle, bags and purchases are searched. No key. Realisation dawns: during the horseplay (or monkey play?) with the bananas, the key must have dropped amongst the fruit.

Knowing the van would stop in the village they are heading for, it is decided to phone the taverna there on the basis that it will be less embarrassing than phoning the car hire company. No signal. There follows a 'gentle stroll' to a higher point on the winding road, all the while scanning the ground in case the key had dropped. Alas, no key, but - at last - a signal!

First the bad news: the stored phone number is 'not recognised'. Then the good news: another member of the party has a business card from said taverna with a different number. Hope returns. The phone is answered (fortuitously) by an English speaker and problem explained. The anxious question: "Has the veggie man arrived?" The hoped-for reply: "Yes, I just heard his horn."

The key is duly retrieved and dispatched with a youth on a motor bike who can hardly ride for laughing! It seems that the reputation of said group of tourists for being 'crazy' has been finally established once and for all.

The party is just about to drive off (the motor cyclist having now gone), when old lady carrying shopping is spotted in the rear view mirror. Is this not the granny of youth on the bike. Dilemma: the car is full, but ought they to offer a lift? Then a second look. Surely she wouldn't be on foot this far from home...? And doesn't she wear black, not grey? Probably another granny from another, nearer village. What is the penalty, they wonder, for kidnapping grannies and depositing them in the wrong village? Better not risk it..

The trauma over, the tourists check their phrase books lest a similar episode should ever occur. But, sadly, nowhere does it say: "Can you ask the travelling veggie-man to check his bananas for the key to my hire car."

Nor, come to that, can they find: "I am sorry, Officer, we have forced the wrong granny into our car and driven her to the wrong village, taking her attempts to refuse for natural diffidence."

My thanks to Ο Βιβλιοθηκονόμος for permission to publish this account and for being so civil as to not mention that the driver was named David!

* Today's blog heading: Yes, we have no bananas!
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Images: Brian Sibley & David Weeks © 2008

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