by Daniel Cook*
I woke up at about 9 am on my first morning in Albania, in a small 4th storey apartment with a beautiful view of the city and Mount Dajti. The sun was bright and everything was new to me. I jumped out of bed, ready to tackle whatever adventures this brand new country would bring my way! I envisioned hiking up that mountain for a start, and stomping all around this fascinating new city.
The first thing I did was to pick up the phone and call my Albanian girlfriend. “Oh Daniel,” she said, “do you want to go out for a coffee with the girls?” Never being one to turn down some morning caffination, I met up with the group and went out for coffee.
That first coffee lasted until after 12 pm. Throughout the rest of the day, we had coffee 3 or 4 more times, each time lasting for 1 or 2 hours! During my first week in Tirana, I estimate that I logged 30 hours or so sitting and “having a coffee”, which leads me to Albanian Observation Number 1:
The case of Benjamin Button was not “curious” at all. He was just an Albanian.
Photo credits: Isaleal / Flickr
Photo credits: Marcia Tennyson /Flickr
You know when you were a kid, and you went out to visit your grandmother’s farm? All you wanted to do was run off and poke a cow with a stick, or climb up into the hay loft and build a fort out of hay bales? Grandma would sit on the porch in her rocking chair, sipping her coffee and saying, “What’s your hurry sonny? Let’s just sit for a spell.”
Photo credits: Swashbucklertales.com
The case of Benjamin Button is not strange at all. Turns out there’s a whole country full of people who were born at 80 years old. If you don’t believe me, just come to Albania, and witness an entire city “sitting for a spell.” I just hope you have a well conditioned rear end, because it’s going to see more use than a career video gamer.
It’s February now, and the sky is trying to drown the capital city of Tirana. It rains for days and weeks on end, and the streets of the city can sometimes resemble the waterways of Venice. If you want to float around on an innertube, there’s no need for you to go to the beach. Just blow that baby up and set it afloat on the street outside your flat. But while you’re floating there, I want you to take a glance at the people walking past. You aren’t going to see any rubber galoshes, waterproof windbreakers, or bright yellow parkas. Instead, what you will see is soaking wet designer shoes, nice dress pants splattered with mud up to the knees, and soggy but beautiful clothes that Ralph Lauren himself wouldn’t wear out on a rainy day.
This phenomena becomes even more confusing when you live in a culture that still holds the belief that all sickness stems from an open window. (Wet hair? Open air? How can you dare? You’ll catch your death doing that! Now excuse me while I smoke my mid-morning pack of cigarettes.) You’ll soon start to feel a bit self conscious being out and about with those ugly, but waterproof boots you had shipped in from the USA, so that you don’t have to stop to wring out your socks quite so often in a day, which brings me to Albanian Observation Number 2:
Roll out the red carpet. All Albanians are A-List Fashion Supermodels.
Who cares about the rain and mud! I wash my dishes with fancy clothes! Ha!
Beep Beep! Hey! HEY! I noticed you’re a female!
Those of us who are from western countries are no strangers to seeing guys make lame pick-up attempts and badly advised conversation choices to try and connect with a woman. If you’ve been to a bar, ever, you have seen some dude crash and burn when trying to strike up a conversation with a pretty girl. Universally, we guys aren’t exactly gifted when it comes to knowing “what a girl wants” when being interrupted in the middle of their dinner by a complete stranger. Personally, I believe that most of these failures are due to the fact that you are a complete stranger interrupting her in the middle of her dinner! Historically, no one refers to cold call phone salesmen as sexy beasts, do they?
Photo credits: Mat Sloughter / Flickr
Albanian boys take the lame pick-up attempt to an entirely new level. They are truly, truly masters. They are so good in fact, that actually speaking to the girl is not necessary. They have abandoned that road long ago…. It’s just too easy. No, Albanian boys seek a higher challenge! Their method for being smooth with the ladies is to merely drive past them and blast on their car horn. This can be done in your 5 seat Mercedes full of 6 other dudes. This can be done in your company Mercedes, decked out with your employer’s company decals. This can be done on your Mercedes motorcycle, with another middle aged boy clinging behind you on the seat. Really it can be done in any kind of Mercedes, and it brings me to Albanian Observation Number 3.
Albanian boys are seriously, seriously cool. When I grow up, I want to be an Albanian boy.
(I do not have any percentage data yet on how effective this method is. I’ll get back with you.)
I can just imagine how the conversation goes.
Albanian boy 1: “Hey daku…. There’s this girl I really like. I’m gonna like… go and like, say hello to her, and like…. Ask her how she is doing.”
Albanian boy 2: “No daku… trust me bro, that’s not what you want to do. You need to drive past her really quick, blast your car horn, splash her with mud, and scare her half to death. She’s gonna want you after that for sure bro.
Albanian boy 1: “Really bro? I shouldn’t give her these flowers?”
Albanian boy 2: “No bro. Trust me bro.”
Photo credits: Peter / Flickr
Photo credits: kaveman743 / Flickr
*Daniel Cook lives in Albania since he married an Albanian girl. Being a talented singer, Daniel performs in different nighclubs with his small band and is currently participating at Voice of Albania. Mr. Cook also is the speaker of English News Edition at Ora News TV. This article is composed of Daniel’s first impressions about life in Abania and he published it for the first time at invest-in-albania.org.
Photo credits: Daniel Cook Facebook page
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