Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jancsi és Juliska

This story happened when we lived in Debrecen, Hungary and our son was just a little fellow.

One day I arrived at the train station to take the almost three hour trip to Budapest. After getting my ticket, I was biding time in the lobby of the station until it was time to board the train. There was a table covered with books for sale. That's when I spotted an oversized children's book entitled: Jancsi és Juliska. That's the Hungarian title for Hansel and Gretel.

I was familiar with the story and its characters since I had recently read the story to my young son. The hardback Hungarian children's book had large illustrations on the left side with the large print corresponding text on the right side.

I had a bright idea. The book would be good practice for me since I was studying Hungarian. I knew the story and I had the help of the illustrations in understanding the text. Even if I did not know all of the words, I could have some success in reading this book. The book would then be a good gift for my son.

Now get the picture. I was a well-dressed adult man taking the train into the capital city. As were many people on the train, I was utilizing my time with some reading material. Only with me, I was reading a giant full-colored illustrated book of Hansel and Gretel with the text in giant letters.

The conductor came by for my ticket. I handed it to him without making any comment. He looked at me, looked at the book and then looked back at me. He had no way of knowing that I was a foreigner studying his difficult language. He just rolled his eyes, shook his head and continued down the aisle!

The joys of learning a new language!