I’m in Salzburg for a month already and the experience is breathtaking. A miracle on earth is what it is. The sights, the architecture, the nature and the lovely English accent Austrians had that was in a great harmony with German intonation never ceased to win my heart over. I used to take a walk from uni to home just to wander. There was always a new place to see and a precious moment to capture.
When I had mentioned I was interested in living in a multicultural community I never thought this would be it. Every shop I stepped in it took me a five second small talk to know where the host was originally from. And they were from all around the globe – I got used to the diversity soon.
My walks, however, caused me a bunch of trouble – starting from getting lost and finishing with ruining my shoes. Salzburg is the closest you can get to London in terms of the weather. Rain. I know. This rain gave a completely different sensation though – raindrops were slightly visible and they never really touched your skin to the point of shivering. They brushed your face so tenderly their touch was surprisingly pleasant. God, I loved the rain in Salzburg. Lovely. My shoes, however, hated it. Trust me – I could tell. I was running home so fast once that I ended up missing a step and breaking my high hill. Damn, that was inconvenient. New town, unfamiliar places and I was highly skeptical they had a shoe repair shop. These, however, were my new ones so I had to take my chances.
I started with asking a couple of people in my dormitory then gave up on my absolutely unforgiving German skills and reached for help online. The closest one ended up being a couple of blocks away from home and before my smile reached my eyes the name of the repairman made it fade away completely. Given the very limited encounter I had with Turkish people this one was about to take it to another level.
I was a bit worried – to tell the truth. I considered searching for another one nearby but then it hit me. What was my problem?
I entered the shop the next day and my quite expressive face and “let’s not say how terrible” German gave it all away. There were a lot of international students in town. He probably considered me being one. He took the shoes and asked me to stop by the next morning to pick them up. The man was in his fifties. Tall, big bright eyes, light brown hair. I started thinking I might have misinterpreted the information – That happens to me often anyways.
So I did leave the house 9 am next morning heading to his shop. It was raining again. That favorite rain of mine – the corner of my mouth curled up. I opened the heavy door into his tiny shop had and walked in waiting for the old man standing before me to finish his inquiry. My turn came and I greeted him nicely reminding my name. He smiled and turned around to look for my hills. Trust me the wall of variety he had behind him would take him a while to find the one.
He searched something in his notes then looked at me.
“Where are you from?”
I froze and recovered soon proudly announcing, “Armenia.”
He looked up his eyes wide with a hit of smile on his face. This was the moment I could never erase from my memory. He was looking at me the way you look at something you had lost and found after a century. That’s the impression I have stamped in my mind. It took him quite a while to respond. Meanwhile his eyes filled with some emotion I wasn’t familiar with. God, I would have given the world for him to say something before I felt the need to break the silence.
He did, “Armenia?”
Not helpful – I know.
“Yeah, I study here.” I never felt this awkward in a conversation. I had no idea how to feel about this.
“Music?” He smiled.
I would laugh but that wouldn’t fit the scene. I mean, typical Eastern mentality. The girl should be studying music, art, beauty and everything else being a woman in this region limits one to.
“Politics.” I couldn’t help but smile.
“Oh, why? that’s boring.” he was disappointed.
I burst out laughing, “Oh, well.”
By now he was holding the box he had put my shoes in. I shook my head thanking heavens the awkward silence ended with quite an amusing small talk then reached for my wallet to make the payment.
Before I could get my card out he said, “Ten euros, please.”
I looked up in disbelief, “No, you said twenty yesterday.”
His smile disappeared, “Kid, we are neighbors,” he looked like he was hoping I knew what he meant. “I know this far doesn’t cut it but ten for you.”
I walked out without arguing further and not really understanding what that was about. I might have not depicted the scene properly. Please, excuse the word choice – they might not even fit the context as a result ruining the true image of what I experienced in those two-three minutes. Yet that moment with that person feeling so sorry for what his ancestors caused mine threw me in deep thoughts. Nothing would ever change the way we feel toward them. Nothing. Nothing would cut it. Never… and they knew it.