Originally intended as a small book, “Glimpses: In which a Casual Traveler Ruminates on Passing Scenes—1989-2011″, I should like to share it with my readers in a more informal manner as a series of Blogs.
Germany: Munich: Waiting in the Marienplatz to hear the glockenspiel, we hear loud shouting off to one side. “Raus Auslander! Heil Hitler” resounds off the enclosing walls. This, almost fifty years after the war! Police quickly close in on a man who is obviously drunk. A prank? A deep-seated resentment? Who knows the mystery of the human heart? Where were the police during the 1930’s?
Italy: Rome: Standing in the middle of the Forum early one morning, I see Cornelia looking into her guidebook. Perplexed. Why would someone look into a book when the actual thing is there in front of you? “I want to know what I’m looking at,” she said. Still perplexed.
China: Beijing: Passover Seder at a hotel “party room”: Once inside, we could not believe we were in China. Familiar prayers, complaints, kibitzing, food, kids running around unsupervised. Who taught the Chinese cooks to make gefiltefish?
Germany: Deichelweg: Visiting with Gabi and Norbert Wittmer, sharing supper at their home, we congratulated Gabi on a fine meal. “Thank you,” she said modestly. Norbert then reached out his arm and patted her on the back: “Ja! Our best horse,” he said. Taken a bit back at first, we laughed when we saw the twinkle in his eye. Apparently this was a favorite “joke” of his when guests complimented his wife. It was not Gabi’s! I’ve attempted to use the line a couple of times myself back home at our dinner table, but it usually falls flat. It’s not Cornelia’s favorite, either. Apropos the joys of translating idioms into another language, during the meal Cornelia asked if they wanted us to “knock off” the last of the salad. “Knock off?” they asked, puzzled. When we explained its meaning they laughed and enjoyed learning this new phrase. During breakfast the next morning, Norbert pointed at the platter of wursts and cheeses and proudly announced, “Let’s knock it out!” Our turn to chuckle — and another round of explanations. Oh, the idiocy of idioms in translation!