Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Relatives far away

I always had the idea that relatives far away, abroad, can be only humans. But there are exceptions.

One day in the little village in the Orava mountains where we have our cottage, appeared a penguin. How we can even imagine that Arctic flightless bird in one of the most remote corners of the center of Europe?! In fact, he had been there for a while, but I discovered him only when our six-year-old daughter Veronica and I went down from our cottage on the hill to the hardware store. And she discovered that penguin on the shelf over the checkout stand. Obviously, she wouldn‘t be much attracted by nails, paints, axes, or saws, but a penguin in an ironmongery is not an everyday sight. Furthermore he had been standing there for a long time, and his black plush fur coat was covered by dust. But our Veronica was not bothered by that; she likes gifts on any occasion, even shopping for nails. But I said no, firmly...

My resistance to the penguin lasted a week, which is quite an accomplishment. But finally I could not resist Veronica´s noisy demands. So, we went to look at penguin – just to have a look. Veronica was really enthusiastic. And even the owner of shop became enthusiastic. He realized that this was his once-in-a-lifetime chance. That penguin (who was, thanks to batteries, able to walk strangely, move his wings, and make some strange penguin-like noises) had been acquired by the owner in a temporary loss of business-sense. Veronica and I must have looked like heralds from heaven.

„I will give you a discount.“

That seemed obvious when one looked at the dust-covered penguin. But not necessarily a discount for us, since we had just come to have a look.
„Look as much as you want, take your time.“

So we had enough time to look at the penguin: how he walked strangely, moved his wings, and made some strange penguin-like noises. I found nothing specially attractive in that. But Veronica and the shopkeeper were pretty excited. But that was not all.

„But that is not all,“ the owner said dramatically when the penguin finished his walking, moving and quacking routine. „This,“ said the owner mysteriously, taking the innocent penguin in his hands, „this is – male! And I have also a female!“ He took from somewhere in the storeroom a paper box and pulled out a penguin exactly like the one from shelf. He placed them next to each other.

„Penguin daddy – penguin mum, for your pleasure!“

I look with Veronica at each other with silent amazement – a penguin farm in the Orava mountains? Little plush penguin babies easily and quickly?! Before I would totally lost contact with reality, I sternly expressed my decision that this penguin wedding will take place only over my dead body. Little Veronica did not hesitate for long and firmly expressed her decision that if we did not buy at least one of those penguin, I could count on seeing her dead body as well. The owner had already been near death from whole that stressful bussines. And all this face to face with two penguins who are endlessly able to show how they walk strangely, move their wings, and try to express themselves in their own, genuine electric language.

I do count this as a big victory for rational thinking that we bought only the female penguin (the one not covered by dust). And, please, do not try to remind me that we came just to have a look. The result was a clear compromise.

Months later we were with my good wife Janina on holiday in the Egyptian tourist resort Hurghada. Originally a shabby fishing village, it had now turned within a few years into a tourist centre full of hotels, beaches, swimming-pools and shops. You will find the same situation at Kuta on Bali island or at any former village on the Croatian ashore of the Adriatic sea. There were few shops in Hurghada, and only one pretended to be „duty free“. We got attracted, went through and bought nothing. But we got good news for back home. Our female penguin has an uncle in Hurghada! He is staying there at shelf covered by dust and is waiting until some local Veronica will come and will take him home together with a penguin aunt hidden somewhere in the storeroom.

Available in E-books: book/svetje-maly-the-world-is- small/id554103459?mt=11 book/le-monde-est-petit-world- is/id554104733?mt=11 book/the-world-is-small-svet- je-maly/id554101744?mt=11

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