Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Europe (excluding the United Kingdom) (02/19/09)
TITLE: Káva Java Gold
By Lisa Claro
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I stepped through the door and into serendipity.
The floors were textured concrete, painted glossy black. The open ceilings revealed funky tract lighting and lazy ceiling fans. Each wall was a different hue reminiscent of rich coffees and teasâ€”creamy gold, mossy green, deep burgundy and muted red-orangeâ€”and while there were cafĂ© tables and chairs in the center of the room, the four corners were made cozy by the placement of small loveseats and coffee tables. The windows were covered in ceiling-to-floor silky fabric that invited the sun but muted glare. More ceiling-to-floor draperies served as partial dividers to create pockets of semi-privacy.
Enchanted, I stepped to the counter. The coffee selections included a rich German blend, cafĂ©-au-lait, Spanish mocha, and the promised Czech kĂˇva. Baklava, tiramisu, and other baked goods tempted from behind a glass case, and the lunch specials were Polish pierogis and a stew of kielbasa and pork with sauerkraut. While waiting for the young man behind the counter to assist me I glanced at the artwork on the walls which depicted landmarks from every European nation I could name and many I could not.
â€śCool little place,â€ť I commented to the young man after ordering a cappuccino. I glanced at his tag but was unable to pronounce the name printed there. He smiled at my struggle.
â€śMy friends just call me C.Z.,â€ť he said. â€śMy family is Czechoslovakian.â€ť
â€śYou have very little accent.â€ť
â€śWe moved here when I was young. Iâ€™m USA all the way.â€ť He laughed and his hazel eyes danced. â€śMy grandmother, nowâ€”I call her BabiĂ¨ka,â€ť he see-sawed his hand, â€śher English is not so good, but she tries. This is her place.â€ť
â€śDid she do the decorating? This is great.â€ť I swept my arm around. â€śI love the whole European theme.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™d be amazed at the number of people who donâ€™t notice.â€ť He pointed to a wall of photos. â€śThe tulips in Amsterdam, the Matterhorn, the Acropolis, St. Stephenâ€™s Cathedralâ€”things that should be highly recognizable, but people pay no attention.â€ť
â€śYour grandmotherâ€”BabiĂ¨ka,â€ť I corrected, â€śmust miss Europe a great deal to have gone to the time and trouble to create such a tribute.â€ť
â€śYes, but not for the reasons you think.â€ť
C.Z. chose his words while he finished blending my cappuccino.
â€śBabiĂ¨ka was a young girl when Hitler marched across Europe. Her family sheltered Jewish friends and was found out. She and her mother, father, and two sisters were put into cattle cars and taken to Poland.â€ť His eyes dimmed. â€śAll but BabiĂ¨ka perished in Auschwitz.â€ť He sighed. â€śShe survived by picturing all of the amazing things in Europe rather than the ugliness of the Nazis. Dreaming of acres of blooming tulips in Holland and cherry blossoms in Prague reminded her that beauty can exist even when ugliness tries to stamp it out.â€ť
â€śSo these images saved her,â€ť I offered.
â€śYes, and every day she looks at her pictures and they make her happy.â€ť
â€śYour BabiĂ¨ka sounds like an extraordinary woman.â€ť I said, and meant it. â€śWhy did she name this place KĂˇva Java Gold?â€ť
â€śWell, KĂˇva and Java, for the obvious reason.â€ť He grinned and pointed to the logo that was a stylish, steaming coffee cup. Then he walked around the counter and I followed him to the photographs. He pointed to one of the pictures and then to another. â€śThis is the Gold.â€ť
I leaned closer. At the top left corner of each photograph was a small, gold cross. I moved from photo to photoâ€”Oslo, Rome, Paris, Prague, Budapest and so many moreâ€”each was adorned with the gold cross.
I looked askance at C.Z.
â€śThe Nazis could not destroy the beauty of Europe or the cross of Christ. This knowledge gave BabiĂ¨ka the courage to go on when even breathing was an effort. As I said, so many come in and do not ask about the photos and do not see the crosses. They come for kĂˇva; yet Godâ€™s beauty and the love of Christ completely surrounds them on every wall.â€ť He offered me a wide smile. â€śNot your average cup of coffee.â€ť
â€śYes,â€ť I agreed, humbled. â€śThanks to your BabiĂ¨ka, Europe is more beautiful than I ever imagined.â€ť
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