Across the table from me, sits a delightful-looking young blonde Czech lady who pecks at her food. I have pretty much monopolised the conversation so far and tried to ask a few questions to give her the chance to talk a little. I discover that she doesn’t speak much English. If she isn’t here for my conversation skills, the prospects for my evening have just been raised.
We continue the evening with me telling stories. I try to talk slowly to help her but wonder if she’s even paying attention at all.
I talk about my family and ask her about hers. Her eyebrows scrunch up. I can almost see the words forming behind her eyes.
“Well, I have no sister,” she says and, after a pause, “but I have angry brothers.”
I laugh at the description.
“Oh really? And what are they angry about?” I smile
She gives me a funny look and asks, “My brothers?”
“They’re okay, I think.”
I smile to mask my confusion as she continues to tell me about the rest of her family. The conversation moves on to the English language lessons she’s taking.
“They are in city centre,” she explains, “so it is easy for me to get there from work.”
I nod and ask if the classes are large or not.
“No, not large. We are about 10 people?” she half-asks, probably because she’s not sure of her pronunciation.
I nod and say, “I suppose you’re all Czech students in the class, right?”
She shakes her head.
“No, there are many people who live here from other countries. We have two from Italy, one from France, three from Lesbia and one from Germany.”
My eyebrows dance a merry dance at the image of this class.
“Lesbia?” I ask, curiously.
She frowns again, “Yes, the country in Africa? The one with the war last year?”
“Oh, Libya?” I suggest.
“Yes,” she says, with a smile, “From there.”
This evening could go either way, really.