Sunday, June 7, 2015

How many languages does it take to buy cheese?

My last day in Switzerland finally arrived. But instead of relaxing in the morning before I went to the airport, I was doing what typical Filipinos do when they're out-of-town: pasalubong shopping. I had already purchased macarons and chocolate. The last item on my list was Val's special request: cheese. As per the advice of one of the shopkeepers, I proceeded to Globus, a hypermarket in Lausanne. After a quick tour around, I couldn't find the cheese. So I looked for someone who could speak in English. 

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a grocer who spoke English at that time. I did find, however, find a guy who carved ham for customers to taste. After tasting the ham he offered (which I don't think is jamon iberico... must be from some other breed of pig), I attempted to ask where the cheese was. And at that point, I realised that I could barely speak other languages aside from French. Here's how our conversation went (where was my Lonely Planet French phrasebook when I wanted to use it?!?):

Rochie: Parlez-vous Anglais?
Grocery staff: No. Parlez-vous Español? Italiano?
Rochie: Je parle peu Español et Italiano. 
Grocery staff: Si!
Rochie (switching languages): Dove e il formaggio?

And the ham grocer danced his way, guiding me towards the cheese stall. Thank goodness for the cable networks! I wouldn't know how to ask about cheese (in Italian) if it weren't for that cooking show in the Italian channel. 

I really have to learn another language, earnestly.