On rainy days I like to come back to „The Tale of Three Brothers” from the last part of Harry Potter series. It’s such an inspiring tale! Three different stories of three different wizards start and finish in the common point to let the readers understand the final message.
My Irish tale speaks about the three different Irish and the way meeting them enriched me with one more priceless experience.
I am going to share three stories with you. Three stories of the three most unusual meetings in my life.
THE TOP HAT ON THE STREET
1) I was walking down the long, ugly, dirty, scary main street in Belfast. It was nearly 11PM and I was just trying to fix my damn camera on the mode which will finally let me take a photo a little less blurry than the last twenty shots I had taken until then. Suddenly, I felt someone dabbing my shoulder. I turned around quickly. The man about 40 year old was wearing this super sexy long English coat and the top hat (yeah, I have met Sherlock Holmes, feel free to be jealous). He stand near and stayed like this for a while, looking off into the distance. He was probably observing a shining, huge sign “Merry Christmas Belfast” by the end of the street.
‘Did you know that the Town Hall is highlighted in different colors every I really don’t remember 2 minutes? You could take different shots if you waited here for a while.’ he said, keeping me confused for the next 30 seconds. You should know that if in the country I come from someone starts to speak to you on the street we have an unconditional reflex to think that it is pretty much time to run away because:
- He is drunk and he just want to kill, rape steal our wallet.
- He wants to ask us money to buy an alcohol
- He is mentally ill
- He is an elderly person who will surely force us to spend one hour speaking about a useless subject.
So you see that in my country we rather do not speak to strangers. Never. Can you imagine how many amazing acquaintance do we miss?!
Back to the story, when 30 seconds passed and the man was still standing near and observing my stupid face me with a kind smile, I stammered quiet “Thank you”. He smiled more broadly and I started to feel a little more comfortable. ‘He does not look like a pervert’ I thought calming myself down.
Then we started a conversation. The man asked me where I was from, what I have seen by far and if I came here to work. I was a little bit confused after the last one as I know that Polish immigration to the UK is a controversial subjects. But before I managed to answer that I’m just visiting my friend, he said ‘It is ok. I have nothing against people coming to work in here’. He gave me few more recommendation and I reluctantly said that I needed to go.
At 11.15 PM we went our own direction down this sill ugly, dark, scary… main street in Belfast.
THE DRAMA IN THE BATHROOM
That day I had a really awkward evening. I was with some friends in the pub and as I am little bit difficult sensitive person one thing which I don’t even remember anymore made me cry so hard that I had to literally run to the bathroom in order not to show my tears to all of them.
It took me a while to actually find this toilet because even with all my affection to the picturesque Irish pubs which remind me Disney’s film I can NEVER find the toilet in these 5 normal + 2 hidden rooms.
When I finally found one I was already breaking down and my face was covered with herds of small, red spots. I hid in the cabin trying to clumsily wipe my nose with the toilet paper. After a while my boyfriend came and started convincing me to come back to the table. Well, everything he managed to do was just convincing me to get out of this cabin and anchor next to the sink. After a while I was finally able to explain that I just want to be alone for a while.
Suddenly a women entered the toilet. I felt pretty embarrassed. It’s a very awkward situation when you show your feelings in public in Poland. Generally we rather ignore each other. The one who is crying tries to hide his face in a handkerchief and the other one quickly jumps to the closest cabin pretending that nothing happened.
So you can imagine how surprised I was when the woman came closer to me smiling kindly and asking what happened to me. She gave me a handkerchiefs and asked what was my name.
This Irish woman I have never met before spent almost fifteen minutes in this bathroom consoling me and offering me more and more handkerchiefs.
This dramatic ridiculous story had a happy ending because I managed to calm down and came back to my friends. I’m still wondering though how is it possible that there is a place on the Earth where there are such people and why this place cannot be in Poland?
Dear Irish, can you please come here and teach us something ?
THE MILK IN THE TEA
Walking down one of the main streets in Belfast there are not many objects tending to catch an attention… except of ridiculous Chinese Snack Kiosks open 24h/7days. The only really VISIBLE things in this pretty crappy atmosphere are monumental buildings of gothic churches. There are at least few of them placed along every single street. Churches and pubs, these are the only eye-catching objects in this mediocre city.
One day we decided to take a long walk to the city center. We left the house quite late so it was already getting dark (but honestly dark or light, Belfast is not better anyway) I actually planned to be home before 7pm because I really wished to go the church that day. Partly because it was Sunday and partly because I have never been in a protestant church before. Now when I think about it I find it a bit impractical not to charge my phone before going for a walk in the new city. Generally we stayed without a map, without any way of contacting our friends and without the clock…
Magically (yeah, why I’m always so lucky?) we managed to come back exactly 2 minutes before 7pm. The church I have chosen was an old, gothic building surrounded by picturesque park and reflected with lights of few reflectors which were giving a beautiful affect as it was the late evening.
I approached to glass door hoping to get inside invisibly as I really hate to be late for the church. I am not keen on being in the center of attention so I really do not like to be late on meetings, always full of people suddenly turning around to watch you clumsily trying to reach the closest free sit as fast as possible. You can imagine that when I saw the very small group of people sitting in a circle I decided that I had probably confused am hour of the Mess. As I was really too shy to ask I just went around the church to see if there is no other entrance and decided to come back home. When we were almost near to the gate the man run out of the church and quickly caught us asking if we WERE there to join the Mess. When I confusedly confirmed he invited us in.
Following the man we crossed the door and get inside the circle of people. Honestly the small crowd is even worse than the big crowd because the first one put more attention to the person appearing suddenly exactly in the middle of the circle. Happily and elderly woman with a very kind smile quickly invited us to sit down near to her at a small table. As soon as we sat down she proposed us some tea with milk and cookies. I don’t know what surprised me more – adding milk to the tea or the fact that it was all happening in the church! I really recommend you to take your portable chair, table and a teamaker, place it in a catholic church and kindly propose if the priest or some others wouldn’t like to taste a cup of tea or a cookie ? Being as confused and not exactly conscious I didn’t even remember to refuse putting milk to my tea… Maybe I count too much on stereotypes but who drinks milk with tea? (sorry, dear British)
Cookies were really delicious and even the tea was not so bad (ok British, you have the point). I loved singing together with them and listening the stories that the priest encouraged people to tell. After the Mess we spend some time helping to clean up the church of Christmas decorations. So many people came to us and introduced asking for our names and where are we from. They were so friendly and smiled. I wouldn’t expect such a kindness and enthusiasm from people who spend every day in such a crappy and grey atmosphere.
There we reached the end of the tale. As it was the story based on my real experiences I would like to thank Irish for the experience they’ve brought to me. I met so many different people from all over the world by now but this journey made me think that there is something pretty special about you… Living in such a rainy, cold and grey place how do you manage to keep endless supplies of enthusiasm and kindness even for strangers?
Therefore if you don’t mind carrying umbrella with you every day and you dream of getting new friends there is no better place to go than Ireland. Especially Belfast.
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