In case you missed the first part of the Babala Chronicles, check it out here.
Back Side, or Backy, is Hungarian but grew up in Serbia. He speaks Hungarian, Serbian, English, and maybe a few other languages that I missed. I was too busy trying to figure out what I was doing my whole life instead of learning to speak foreign tongues. I think I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and dreaming of ways I could meet/marry/runaway with Sarah Michelle Gellar. And not necessarily in that order. Backy’s real name is Gabor Bali. The funny thing is, Backy (or Becky as he referred to himself in a message) is a little bit better for him than Gabor. In Serbian, Gabor actually refers to an ugly girl. He explained it to me one day when we were walking that people use Gabor to describe a girl walking by the same way we in the U.S. might describe a butter face. So he even asked that I refer to him as Backy and not “ugly girl” in this article. Well Backy, I got your…back.
Backy ended up staying with me the second night I was there. We were sharing a room and having a pretty good time chatting about whatever the hell we felt like. He got up the next morning and at the time I could barely fall into a light doze, so I woke up with him. He proceeded to tell me that I speak Serbian in my sleep…and that he wrote down what I was saying. Lo and behold people! I’m a regular Rosetta Stone when I’m asleep but God forbid I try to take a Spanish test, oh I don’t know, while conscious. He left at about 7 AM and that’s when the weird shit started happening.
Between approximately 7 AM and 10 AM, this glorified Serbian bag boy came into my room at least four times with at least four different people. The last one to come in decided that they wanted the room…specifically Backy’s bed. These guys must’ve been important because the landlady immediately grabbed all of Backy’s stuff and tossed it out. This led me to the train of thought that what if someone more important comes in and wants my bed? Where will my stuff be when I get back? No way Jose. I went off to find Backy and tell him but the effort was ultimately futile…no one knew who he was at the hotel when I got there. Either that or no one understood what the hell I was asking for and therefore just told me no to be safe. There is one event I feel I should touch on before I move on with the story and that is about the landlady. Backy was a real help with the employee “accommodations”/refugee camps, especially when it came to the landlady.
I want to prelude this with a few things. First off, despite the language difficulties, this lady was awesome. Even though I couldn’t understand a damned word she was saying she loved talking to me and was an absolute sweetheart. I think it hurt her that she couldn’t communicate with me so I got a Serbian-English dictionary and made a go of it. So no matter what I say, know that she was probably one of my favorite people I met while I was in B****.
That being said, she was an older woman, one who might be able to finally explain to scientists whether dinosaurs were caring parents or ditched their young to Darwin’s Law. She was matronly enough; she might’ve picked up a few of the stragglers. No matter what I said or how I explained to her though, she just didn’t care that I didn’t speak Serbian. Actually, I think it encouraged her to greater levels of conversation. We would go through a half hour to 45 minutes at a time with her just talking at me. She must’ve at some point realized I wasn’t one of the 15 Americans in the U.S. who speaks fluent Serbian but it didn’t bother her. Bothered the hell out of me but not her. Our conversations generally tended to go something like this:
Ryan: “Hi! Oh man, do you have a key? I’m locked out of my room.”
Crustaceous-Era Landlady: “fds9 48(7437#^& #&8 gbo*. Jdsewnl r32 asbif6 320bnfd r30022.”
Ryan: “Uh…yea. The key? Like…(Insert key turning hand motion here)…you know key? Locked? (and insert key turning hand motion here…again) Nothing huh?
Landlady: “fjdkw jkdksue ytiew clbnew 23gfldi8 gldsi4 fdks; gi430#*(39.”
Ryan: “?!?!? I don’t speak Serbian!! Just a key! My kingdom for a key!”
Landlady: “100100 10001 00100 0101000100010 0101010111101011 01011011.”
Ryan: “…was that binary? Did you just speak to me in binary?”
Landlady: (Points at the stairs and throws arms up in the air in an exasperated manner) “ikswnf732ibf 10010010 00101100 fdjksfdak*84732b fdjlkd* #hof&3 =d=fbfss”
Ryan: “Okay now I know you’re messing me…that was like a Serbian/binary mix. I didn’t even know you could speak binary…”
You get the point. Essentially communication between us was nonexistent. Which sucked because it was rreeaallyy hard to find out when our shower would start working again and I didn’t have to sneak up to someone else’s apartment and borrow their shower. Fun to do when all you have is a dishtowel to dry off/cover up with. But I found myself locked out of my room, and thusly my passport, with no idea when the one person would get back with a key to let me in. Oh and did I mention that it was raining? Nay, I retract my previous statement. Did I mention that it was a low level hurricane? It wasn’t really but I didn’t know it could rain for two days straight with the intensity of a Miss America runner up who just lost the crown. Like…damn. So I began my 20-minute walk back to the hotel to get back on my computer and figure out a solution to my housing situation. I say 20-minute walk to the hotel because it was, most of the time. The way back ended up being a good hour to an hour and a half due to the fact that none of the roads felt it necessary to have street signs or numbers on the buildings and I have a sneaking suspicion that my apartment building thought it’d be funny to pickup and move on me every morning after I left. I am just such a stupid American sometimes.
Part Three will be up next Wednesday!