It was my first week in Luxembourg and I was so full of enthusiasm. In that one week I was lucky to encounter people who seem to know and speak English very well. This of course made me confident that I would be able to survive this place with my obvious lack of local language. Though I had learned French few years ago my spoken French skills at that moment were almost non existent.
So with a confidence and naivety of a child I start off for a local super market to buy some groceries. Now most of the basic stuff like eggs and bread, I was able to buy just by looking at the aisles though I couldn’t really read the product specifications. I was thinking to myself that this isn’t as bad as I thought. when suddenly I remembered that I needed “sugar free” tablets. I had just delivered my first baby and was on this massive weight loss mission back then.
I searched in the aisles but could not find what I was looking for. So after frantically searching for about 10 minutes, I decided to venture to the counter lady and ask her. I reached the counter and asked her if she knew English and she smiled and said yes a little. My joy at knowing that she knew English was equivalent to Neil Armstrong on reaching the moon for the first time. Feeling confident I asked her that I wanted “sugar free”. Suddenly I saw her expression change. From the pleasant smile she had it turned to an expression of horrified disgust. She looked at me as if I had asked her for both her kidneys. I was not sure what I had done or said to deserve it. But once again I prodded I need “sugar free?”.
Then suddenly without any warning, she sprang up from her seat and disappeared inside. I was wondering if she is calling police or some authorities to have me arrested or something. I started wondering if my excessive weight had something to do with this. While I was lost in my thoughts she came back with a packet of sugar and said forcefully- “Sugar not free” and showed me the price label. After I collected my senses , I tried once again and said “No no, I need sugar free”. Now that look of horrified disgust turned in to anger as the lady at the counter said- “Sugar not free” and attempted to show me the label again.
In exasperation I decided to try another route of explanation. So I told the lady – “I need diet sugar”. Now that lady at the counter decided that I was a lunatic of highest order and looked at me and said”Sugar -no diet”. I wasn’t sure of I should be rolling with laughter or pulling my hair in exasperation.
All this while there was a British lady right behind me in the queue and her amusement at my obvious plight was amazing. After she managed to douse her giggles, she finally offered help. Luckily she was proficient in French and she finally managed to communicate with the counter lady and get me my “sugar free”. All of us had a hearty laugh over this confusion and went our way.
Till the time I was in Luxembourg the lady at the counter always had a smile thinking about our first encounter whenever she saw me.