Tag Archives: on slovakia

What’s in a Word?

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i’ve always prided myself (ya ya, self-praise is no praise) for being able to pickup a language fairly quickly. i picked up mandarin from friends in ukm, also because i was forced to in order to communicate with my roommate; a bit of cantonese from tvb dramas (please don’t force me to speak, i sound horrible in it though understanding it is ok); german from a class in uni, japanese (which i’ve forgotten all the hiragana writings now) when i was with Sony; and hokkien being my mother-tongue … with english and bm learnt from schooling years. 

SO, when we first got here to Slovakia, i was a bit cocky and thought that i could also just pickup slovak. i thought what’s the fuss, it’s just another languague, and since it’s so near Germany, it might sound like german and prolly have some of the same grammar. one of ayl’s colleague’s wife took 2 years now to acquire slovak, and she’s still learning. i gave myself half a year… boy, was i arrogant! now i’ll need to swallow not only my pride but also my own tongue. bleh~

first off, slovak sounds nothing like german though both languages have gender-grammar (masculine/feminine/neutral). this requires a lot of memorizing – one will need to know what object is ‘female’ or ‘male’ or … ‘sexless’? 😀

not only am i faced with a hard time pronunciating words, i’ve to also know which form of gender to use for each noun, and with slovak, the grammar changes depending on things which are alive and things which are dead as well. hhhuuuhhnnhh???? ok, i’m not gonna give myself a hard time explaining why slovak is super difficult – it just is. and here’s a bit of proof to what i’m talking about. 

 

sample of a conversation, someone looking for the main station

sample of a conversation; someone looking for the main station. the small symbols on top of the alphabets alters the pronunciation of the word.

 

another example of grammar

another example of grammar

it’s so confusing some slovaks can’t even explain why the grammar is as it is, one will just have to accept it as it is and commit it into memory. like why in English we use; ‘he-his-him’ and ‘she-her-her’ and NOT ‘she-shis-shim’

so, if according to the above Singular/Plural rule, is it safe for me to use the below then? 

Cristiano Ronaldo – Cristiana Ronalda??

to order things in restaurants/cafe, i’m still thinking of how to use the number 1. it takes the form of ‘jeden, jedno, jedna, jednu’… all of which has the same meaning but changes due to the noun. oh man…. so most of the time just point and use fingers to show count. 

we also noticed the change of names used in formal contexts. ‘ova’ is added to one’s last name – example; my doc’s name is Gavornikova; when her husband’s is just Gavornik. this is to show that the person is a lady. so then, if i were to use my name in a formal slovak context, it’s gonna be – LEONGOVA!! 

(hmmm…. what others? Angova (i choked lol on this!), Wangova, Luova, Tanova, Tehova, Leeova, Bongova, Gohova… wahakahahahak… please feel free to add any other surname/lastname you think is appropriate)

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Mrs Independent

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for the first time since we got here, i finally decided to brave the public transport myself. i promised myself that when the weather gets warmer and when it’s nicer to go out, i’d take more walks and try to go downtown myself with Arielle. this was further motivated when my cousin Shirleen came over for a week from UK. with her, we took the public transport and went to places like the park, zoo and even visited the Devin Castle

*some travel tips* from where we were, we took the 212/206 trolley bus, stopped at Hodzovo Nameste/the Presidential Pallace (5mins); walked through Old Town to where the Novy Most bridge is, below the UFO tower (10-15mins); take the autobus 28/29 (which comes once in half an hr) and it will take you to the Devin Castle (15-20mins), if you’re not sure, just follow the crowd on where to get down. for more info, this website helps http://www.bratislava.info/trips/devin/

with Shirleen ee-ee looking at the magnificient view of the Danube River from the top of the Castle

with Shirleen ee-ee looking at the magnificient view of the Danube River from the top of the Castle

 

on the way up the steep road; wouldn't have made it without Shirleen

on the way up the steep road; wouldn't have made it without Shirleen

 

posing with 'Mr Leaner' in Old Town

posing with 'Mr Leaner' in Old Town

so yesterday i waited anxiously at the bus stop and hoped to make it for the Ladies’ Bible Study, which is on every Tuesday at The Next Apache from 11.30am. when the bus came ( i think my palms sweat a bit :P), i rolled the pram to the entrance and looked at the 2 steps up the bus as ppl boarded from the other 2 entrances. then a lady behind me voluntarily helped me carry up the pram unto the bus… all businesslike and no smiles. was kinda awkward, but i was grateful for her help. i guess the whole experience was kinda confusing for me; was i suppose to ask for help or would the public voluntarily help? not quite sure about that; but when no one seem to help and as i was struggling to get the pram up the bus on our way home, only then people started to extend their hand. maybe they thought i could do it on my own.

nevertheless, at least now i know i can get to go places with the public transport and at least now i know also that there will be people helping me (with fingers crossed). i don’t have to be stuck at home anymore!! phew~

Obviously I’m Invisible!

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just got back from the store with some groceries, mainly i went to buy bananas coz i want to try to make banana bread and i had another encounter with the locals. don’t know why generally i have negative things to report, and i’m usually a tolerant person who has nice thoughts of people. 

when queueing up to pay at the cashier, here comes a man and a woman (they’re together) who suddenly out of nowhere stood in front of me. i was a bit confused coz i thought ‘hey, i’m also in the line, isn’t it obvious?’ but then they didn’t seem to notice me at all; guess i’m JUST A STICK! – oh, but Arielle is a person sitting on her pram, coz they acknowledged her and they made baby talk to her. 

because our line was slow, the couple decided to move to the other line. and then i tried to align the pram and station my body to show to all that i’m in the line (i know, it’s so stupid. how obvious can it be) and also to ensure that no one squeezes through. but with just a turn of the head, the front guy moved further to the front just an inch and then suddenly those two were back and they squeezed through to stand in front of me again. the thing that ticked me off is they treated me as if i was not there at all!! instead, they asked the guy in front of me, and not me, if they could cut the line. i don’t care if you needed to go first, if you’re in a hurry, please… but at least look me in the eye and smile. that’s the least they could do even if you can’t speak my language or think that i’m brainless. and then they turned back and looked at Arielle and again make baby talk to her. at that point, i was so pissed, i didn’t even look at them. 

throughout the 5mins walk back, i kept going through my head the scene that just went through. part of my head said to the couple ‘God bless you man’ but in my heart and most of my head thought of multiple things that i could have done/said:

1. i could have grumbled in Chinese since i assume they think that i’m unable to understand Slovak/English. coz i’m just a housewife and i’m Asian: ‘si lang ah moh kui, boh ah-kai eh. khi chiak sai lah!’

2. declare audibly in English: ‘OH! either you guys are blind or i’m just a freakin’ stick!!’ but even then, i don’t think they’d understand coz they seem uneducated to me. ooops! did i just think that out loud?

3. confront them and say ‘Prepacte’ (excuse me in slovak) and give them a question mark look that says ‘hello!! i was here first’

4. purposely knock them with Arielle’s pram and ignore them; whahahahakakaka! funny! 

*takes a deep deep breath and exhales loudly* 

GOD BLESS YOU MAN!!

Scene: the Mall

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1. lots of good looking and tall people – they dress nice and they have nice facial features; most people here are fit, maybe because they take a lot of walks (it’s one the recreation here). there are a lot of blond ladies here, and from what i observe, mascara/eyeliner is a compulsory makeup. 

2. dogs – sleeping, inside bags, strolling; all really tame. no cats though; i’m assuming ppl here love dogs more.

3. men with baby prams – it’s a rare sight if it’s M’sia, but here it’s a normal thing. the menfolk take their babies for walks (outside malls) too. just them and the baby, how nice! 

4. baby prams – i can’t help myself, i keep checking other ppl’s baby prams/strollers. that’s coz the prams here are sooooo canggih (awesome); it’s like men watching their fav luxury cars go by. i esp like 3-wheelers with the babyseat higher than normal so i don’t have to bend so much. what we own right now is an equivalent to a Kenari (in the Perodua range).

perodua

5. latest english songs being played in the background/in boutiques.

6. nicely decorated and child-proof corner for kids to play in.

7. lots of kiddy rides where you put in a coin and it moves.

8. ppl staring unsmilingly at us, just coz we’re foreigners (this is the intimidating part). but when they see Arielle, they would smile. there were some old ladies who started speaking to us in Slovak, but it’s too bad we couldn’t understand. 

9. ppl smoking everywhere inside the mall!! esp at coffee corners.

10. clothes, clothes, CLOTHES!! SHOES!! and some more nice stuffs that i had to control myself from all the time. (sighs* if only i earn my own money). even most of the things here for babies/kids seems to be much nicer and with affordable prices. my current fav shop is Peacocks & H&M with both shops carrying apparels for women, men and children. (ooh… there’s actually a dress call ‘Ra Ra Dress’!!) 

 

here's proof!

here's proof!

 

 

 

Love Reading?

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don’t know why i didn’t mention this before; guess i haven’t been buying books from there until lately. 

my parents love reading, and i can remember my mom bringing me to Chowrasta Market at Penang Road (they don’t only have local food goodies there), upstairs where the second-hand book dealers were while my dad just ‘borrows’ from Rasa Sayang Resort’s library, used to anyway. so we never really buy new books.

this place called Next Apache (www.nextapache.com – don’t know why the link doesn’t work) buys and sells second-hand English books; they have nearly everything, they even have text books for lessons. it’s a nice, warm and really cozy place for some ‘me-time’ or if you’d like a quiet place to chat over coffee – this is the place for you, and the staff speaks English so no worries about not being able to comprehend Slovak. 

this is also the place where we go for coffee fellowship after Sunday church services, and they have a nice garden terrace outside for seating as well. it’s just that due to winter, the place is too small to occupy all of us inside, so we’ve moved to a new place temporarily.

here are some pics i took when i was there last Saturday; just the inside though, they also have a level upstairs for more books.   

the many book shelves

the many book shelves

more shelves

more shelves, toilet on the left & pc on the right. i think they also offer internet services

 

sofa/seating area surrounded by books

sofa/seating area surrounded by books

bar - more seating areas opposite it

bar - more seating areas opposite it

the only bad thing about this place (and maybe the whole of Slovakia) is that there is no law to ban smokers from smoking indoors or in public places.  ppl smoke everywhere and especially at coffee places inside the malls, the smoke is thick and if you were to be there long enough, you’d come out smelling like a smoker yourself – hair, clothes and all. 

*Next Apache: Mon – Fri (9.00 – 22.00); Sat – Sun (10.00 – 22.00); Panenska 28. If you’re standing facing the Presidential Pallace, it’s to your left.*

Snow STORM – GAH!!!

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wohhhh… i’m an alien, i’m a legal alien. i’m an englishman in New York.

as i listened to Sting and awaited the green light, the street lights/traffic lights above and around me swayed a little under the pressure of the strong gusts of wind. in front of me, beyond my windshield, the snow practically went horizontal as it falls continuously from the sky. it’s so crazy!! and only yesterday, the temperature was 18*C; and ayl and i had a nice stroll at the park. 

i had to take the car out for grocery shopping, nothing left at home. i thought i could wait out for the rain & wind to stop first, but then just when i thought it was better, the rain turned to snow! oh boy! what happens when it snows hard is that the car is all covered and we’ll need to either scrape or brush off the snow. since it’d just fallen, i had to brush it off the windows in order to drive. good thing i wasn’t blown away by the wind; the snow was blowing right into my face and it stung… like small little pebbles thrown at you. then you get inside, and the windows are all misty; can hardly see.

no.. thank God i didn’t crash the company car, it was just a slight nudge to the gate when i was reversing… that’s all. blame it on the cars here; they don’t have reverse lights for reversing (well, maybe they do but it’s NOT BRIGHT ENOUGH) and they don’t have that annoying sensor to tell you that you’re way too near (i’ve come to appreciate that a lot now). plus, the car’s like a tank considering the car i used to drive around in Kajang. oh and one more vital point, it’s a left-hand drive here. it’s a total mistake to be driving out in this insane weather! 

the season is changing though. it’s not as cold as it used to be, these days it doesn’t get lower than zero degrees anymore. what a relief! after next week will be Spring Break for a week. so before i forget how my first winter is, i’d like to make some records. ha… 🙂

WINTER: 

God’s wonderful creation; everything white and beautiful; romantic when seen from inside a warm cozy place; reminds me of korean love-dramas; freezing cold; slippery; iced ground; dangerous; misty windows; road accidents; Christmas; Christmas market; radiator at home and in the car; boots (we actually miss wearing slippers, and to think i got so excited to wear boots); wool clothes and socks; jackets, hats, scarfs, gloves, thermal underwear; layers and layers of clothes just to go out; missing my shorts and mini skirts; boring essential turtlenecks; being stuck indoors; when we reach a certain destination and it’s too warm for winter jackets and we had to peel them off and lug those bulky things around everywhere we go; winter activities like ice-skating, skiing/sleighing; hot thermal pool; jacuzzi; warm water from tap for all kinds of washing – what an essential!!; cold feet; nice and thick duvet; waking up in the morning and prefering to stay in bed coz it’s the warmest place in the house; ‘white breath’ when you exhale which also reminds me of korean dramas when they talk; frozen red noses; the sound of ice/snow being scrapped from ground; snowmans;  hanging up the laundry and freezing my fingers; indoors-only ice-cream; strong winds; my self-praised great driving skill suddenly turn rotten; staying indoors for long long boring hours; hot wine/hot choc; nice to have noodles with hot & spicy soup and last but not least, i now understand why the angmohs love the sun so much!!