I have already been reminiscing about my awkward first day in the village where I’m currently exiled from civilisation in a post here. This is a follow-up on the topic of local colour in the village, whose quirkiness turned out to be disproportionately large when compared to the small size of the community. The locals, eager to assimilate me like the Zombie or the Borg, have been feeding me stories ever since I moved in. If you think that nothing ever happens in small villages in the middle of corn fields, read on and/or watch Children of the Corn.
Euphemistically speaking, the villagers are a tightly-knit community. Calling a spade a spade, everybody is everybody else’s business here. There is the small-village obligation of saying good morning to any person you meet in the street. I’ve witnessed my granddad chastising a teenager who failed to say hello to him. The boy, with tail between legs (pun not intended), apologised, clearly overcome by a sense of guilt. I’m being shouted at hello by random people all the time. I thought they were confusing me with someone they knew until I learned how greetings work here.
An elder person in the street has the right, and possibly the civil duty, to demand that you identify yourself on the spot. The inquirer won’t want to see your ID, but they’d insist that you name your parents and their parents and locate your native house and your current residence. I’ve been repeatedly forced to identify myself as the wife of Tom Eastern, the eldest son of the Easterns of the neighbouring village, currently residing at my husband’s grandparents’ house. I’m however regarded as suspicious because I can’t name the neighbours living up to ten houses to the left and to the right from our house, the same across the street.
I didn’t know that there was a men’s mental asylum in neighbourhood and that some of the more sane inmates were allowed to go out unaccompanied. I learned the hard way. I was walking in the village’s single long street, minding my own business, when a disturbingly smiling middle-aged man came towards me. He said hello and so did I. Suddenly, he shoved a toy tank in my face and called out triumphantly, tank! I screamed and ran. At home, I was laughed at and told that the inmates were not dangerous, unless their libido is provoked by an immodestly dressed woman. That is very comforting.
It is not clear whether the proximity of the asylum is related to criminality in the village, however, we have an impressionable record here of pub brawls, major burglaries, suspicious shooting accidents and even a murder. There was one remarkable shooting accident accompanying an annual hunting event, where dozens of hunters gather to shoot ducks because they hate their duck faces. At the end of the day, there were many shot ducks, several hares and two hunters. The hunters lived, unlike the female victim of a murder of lust. The woman was homeless and was murdered in an abandoned railway building where she squatted.
On a more cheerful note, there is a series of interesting collective traditions observed in the village. A brief research showed that some of the traditions are strictly regional and are unknown elsewhere in the country. Unfortunately, even the locals can’t explain details of their traditions, not even their purpose. That’s a shame because I’d love to know why there is a man dressed as a bear, another man dressed as a constable and more men in other unrecognisable costumes touring the village each year and asking for a drink at each house. They are usually very drunk when they get to our door and tend to throw up in our front garden. At least, this shows that the most important local colour here is slivovitz drinking.