Kled Ismalaj – Besa in Action
Kled showed up here yesterday, and talked m’ear off for 45 minutes. (I’d been mentioning Alfred’s (ridiculous?) suggestion that if I can’t find a house soon, I should get an apartment in Bajram Curri until something turns up). (I should clarify that Alfred means well, and I know it. But one does not leave NYC to live in Bajram Curri. Fond though one is of it!) AT ANY RATE. The point is that Kled said “Oj! Bajram Curri!” and told me how he’d been sitting in a cafe in Bajram Curri, and heard the waiter tell two tourists that their total for a lemon soda, coca cola and one coffee would be 500 lek. “Pese MIJE Lek!” said Kled, over and over again, still in shock. (of course, that’s 5 THOUSAND lek, which is still how people figure here – in Old Lek, pre-re-valuation. The re-valuation was in 1972. Any day now, “new lek” may catch on.) (But probably NOT.) As this is actually double the real price, and a TON of money in Tropoja, Kled was appalled. So what did he do? Young Kled fixed the waiter with a steely eye, waved him over and said simply: “I’ll pay that.” This, I think, is a very good example of Malesori honor in action. Maybe you only GET a culture of honor in a culture of tricksters? But Malesori’s prediliction for establishing their honor by buying things for foreigners sometimes confuses visitors. There were two nice girls here last summer who confided in me that they were appalled that a gaggle of Malesori had bought them Red Bull drinks at 8 o’clock at night. “We didn’t sleep a wink all night!” Well, I said, you know why – they weren’t trying to keep you awake, it’s just that that’s the MOST expensive soft drink! It was a compliment. Anyhow, Te Lumsht, Kledi! (or however you spell it – ‘well done, Kled!’) Oh. The waiter charged Kled 250 lek. Ha.