Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Greek in Japanese

The bloke at the hotel recommends a few restaurants without a view of the caldera, the great volcanic crater filled with Aegean Sea, because those with a view are expensive.  I appreciate that he’s trying to do me a favour, but what’s the point of coming all the way to Santorini and forgoing the view?  I hunt out the most expensive restaurant I can find and order crayfish risotto with truffles and a bottle of pinot grigio.

It’s an early dinner—I didn’t have lunch, apart from a cheese pie on the ferry—and there’s only one other group on the restaurant terrace: three elderly Japanese men, all with short-brimmed drawstring cloth hats and cameras slung across T-shirts over long white spandex sleeves.  They speak neither English nor Greek, yet manage in the most extraordinary way to order drinks. 

“Chuwana coffee,” one says to the waiter, which rather sounds like someone’s had a lend of him.

“You want a coffee?” the waiter asks.

“Chuwana coffee,” he replies.

“D’you wanna coffee?”

“Chuwana coffee.”

“Chuwana coffee?”

“Chuwana coffee.”

Miraculously, they come in this way to an understanding that the man wants iced coffee.  This waiter is good.  Another orders: “iced tea, hot.”

“You want hot tea?”

“No, lemon.”


“Do you know city name?”

“This is classical Greek music.”

“What is city name?”

“My name is Sony.”


It is the most confusing conversation I’d ever eavesdropped on and yet everyone is good-natured and laughs and seems to get what they want, a round of iced coffees and teas.  When they finish they rise to leave and, with much amused bewilderment, look for the waiter to pay the bill, calling: “Sony!  Sony!”

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