So this is my "When I lived in Bratislava ..." story. I met a Japanese guy named Kenji there who was, of all things, studying Slovak literature at a prestigious local university. Not something that Japanese people usually end up doing, but he'd had a semester abroad in Prague, loved the Czech language so much, tried out Slovakia and discovered he loved the (similar) Slovak language even more, and found a way to come back and live in Bratislava.
|Novy Most - "New Bridge" - in Bratislava|
This particular incident must have taken place after one of our catch-ups - we always met in cafes or fast food places - and we were crossing at a busy intersection, headed towards the Old Town - I can picture the exact spot like it was yesterday. Someone crossing from the other way practically stopped halfway across the road and said something to me in Slovak, and of course I had no idea what it was, gave them a quizzical grin and just kept walking. I did get the feeling that it wasn't very nice, though.
|Devin near Bratislava|
To be somewhat fair, there were extremely few Asians in Bratislava, and to be even more fair, here in Australia there are still plenty of racist comments against Asians (although thankfully less than there used to be - rightfully so as Asians now make up at least 12% of our population - I think it's probably more depending on how you bend the stats). None of which makes this kind of racist behaviour right but in my opinion most racism occurs because of people being unfamiliar (and therefore, unjustifiably fearful) of the people of races that they haven't seen often. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't consider Slovaks to be above-average on the racist scale! Just that one person was, and I regret that they weren't able to learn that day that not every white person on Bratislava streets speak Slovak and not every Asian person on Bratislava streets doesn't. But if by some extremely strange chance you're reading this blog, let this be a lesson to you!