Wednesday, June 06, 2007


A lot of the questions I get from friends about my time in NZ ask about "strange" things: What's the strangest thing you ate over there? What strange words do they use? How stange is the culture?

I usually draw a blank, mostly because I get so excited merely by the thought of NZ and my time there. The only thing I do seem to remember is, on a number of occasions, telling myself to remember these things.

Then, every so often, something in NY reminds me of one of those strange NZ things. Like "Goldstein" at jury duty, or flat whites when I'm about to order a coffee, or seeing a word starting with "Wh-" and wanting to pronounce it as "F-".

Yesterday I was walking down Broadway (which, as a side note, on the Upper West Side has become the new tourist haven thanks to the youth hostel on 103rd and all of the new, cheapo boutique hotels in formerly abandoned buildings) and saw a couple talking to a guy selling incense on the street. I barely registered this until I overheard the girl mention the word "jandals". I did a mental double-take, then a visual one, and saw her take her flip-flop off and show it to the guy. "This. A jandal," she said, when he didn't seem to understand the word.

I wanted to drop my bags and run over and hug the poor girl and say, "I understand! I know what jandals are! And I am happy to be your personal tour guide as long as you speak to me in your sweet little accent and only in kiwi-isms!"

So there, folks, I've now remembered the word "jandal" as one of those strange kiwi euphemisms.

Now tell me: how is "jandal" any stranger than "flip-flop"?