With such a long and complicated (but cutely suggestive, right) title, you may wonder what I am on about right now. Well, I came up with the idea a couple of days ago when I was standing in a Costa drinking a green at 6 p.m. (don’t judge me!) and I was absorbed in writing something very sad and serious and, out of nowhere, I hear people talking in Romanian. Now this is not uncommon in London, especially in the area I live in, but when I do it’s often from all the wrong people (the ones I wouldn’t be too happy to go and say “Oh, you’re Romanian, too? Let’s talk about our culture and share our experiences of being Romanians in a quite hostile land – against us, I mean: I won’t get too much into it, but, what I can say, it’s no picnic being Romanian or Bulgarian in Europe at the moment).
Well, for a moment I was completely distracted and I got agitated for a (short) while. I knew I shouldn’t eavesdrop on a conversation that was more likely private (even more so when thinking nobody around understood them), but for a second there I just rejoiced hearing my mother tongue being spoken by normal and educated people in a Costa, in London. Yesterday had another not-so-similar experience. This time when I arrived home I was struck by the lack of education two strange men (that is that looked like thugs in leather jackets) that went in the hall right before me, but didn’t bother to hold the door for me.
Next I went towards the elevator. Something seemed strange. There was this blonde girl (quite sexy and wearing heavy make-up) waiting for them, and they took the same elevator. Guess what language they were talking! At that moment, I don’t know if they realised I understood every single word they were saying (some kind of awkward flirting, for a second there I was thinking why would a girl alone invite two men – most likely in her room, but I blocked that thought, everybody with their own thing, right?), with a different regional accent than mine, but still perfectly comprehensible. This time the only thought was to get out of the elevator and escape this situation.
The day before I heard a woman talking on the phone in Romanian while grocery shopping, but when I looked like her I felt sorry, she was dressed like a professional in the redlight business, even if she wasn’t exactly that, she seemed so. Of course, I hear a lot of Romanian when I shop around the area I live in, and it’s mostly by normal people I could have a conversation if it wouldn’t be awkward for me to go and say I understand and speak their language (which is also my language). I also hear and speak a lot of Romanian when I go to (cultural) events by Romanians for – mostly – Romanians, but that is a different topic, and I would be deviating from the main one if I got there too.
The idea is… Am I wrong to pretend not to understand? Would it be nice for me to interfere in a conversation that may or may not be meant to be overheard – am I really justified to interfere in somebody’s personal conversation just because I hear a language that happens to be my mother tongue?