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by Ken R. Slade, Vilnius, Lithuania
Minding my own business; waiting for my friend; leaning against the wall of the building containing the popular-but-small food market, beside the baroque 400-year-old Polish church; across the street from the Town Hall in Vilnius, Lithuania. May 2004; the fourteenth year of the second true republic. Then, I was targeted by the sidewalk-strolling accordionist.
He was a small man, wearing his piano-keyboard and 120-bass button instrument, which was a child's, one-half size model: perfect for strolling. The manufacturer's name was in the Cyrillic alphabet. Both player and instrument had experienced some history and weather.
He was on me. The music continued, but the singing was suspended. He began with some story, rehearsed no doubt as much as the song that he was playing.
I could not understand him. I may be one-half deaf, but the other-half can hear well enough to recognize badly spoken Lithuanian. So, I lied.
I told him, in Lithuanian, that I do not understand Lithuanian.
He told me, in Lithuanian worse than mine, that he did not understand Lithuanian, either.
Then he said the word for ‘coffee’: in Russian, Belorussian, Ukrainian, Polish, German, Lithuanian, and again in Russian. So, I gave him some coins; he was happy and walked some few feet away, leaving me here to write his story.
Now, I have been here twenty minutes and he is still playing the same song. It’s a Lithuanian folk song, of which there are actually catalogued more than 600,000. This refrain ends with the Lithuanian word for ‘little girl’, mergaite.
The old women seem amused, and are his best customers; they like how he walks up to them and serenades, addressing his song to them personally. They are not threatened by him because both his hands are playing the accordion. They all smile at the ending: ‘Little Girl’. Then, they want to give him some small coins. However, he does not have many actual clients. In the last twenty-five minutes he has had only three other donations.
Even if my Lithuanian were better, I wouldn’t be able to communicate with him. Even if I spoke Russian, he still would not understand what I have to tell him. I would want him to know that his business would go much better with a capitalist tool: a place for people to put the money. The idea of asking for money, while both hands are engaged in playing the accordion, and with no place to put the money: is fundamentally flawed.
The foregoing article is ‘fiction’. Then again, maybe it is a ‘fiction’ to say that it was ‘fiction’; you can never really know with ‘fiction’ . . .
by KR Slade
After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, Russia scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 200 years, and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 150 years ago.
Not to be outdone by Russia, in the weeks that followed, Poland archaeologists dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly afterwards announced the finding of traces of 250-year-old copper wire, and concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech tele-communications network 50 years earlier than Russia.
Not to be outdone by Russia (and certainly not by Poland), one week later, a self-taught archaeologist in Lithuania reported digging to a depth of 30 feet in central Lithuania, and finding absolutely nothing at all! He therefore concluded that 250 years ago, Lithuania had already gone ‘wireless’; which his teenage son said must have been a 4-G type network.
- Ken Slade, Vilnius (Lithuania)
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