Lost Days

Filed under: — lana @ 7:19 am

Well, as it turns out, Iraqis tend to be somewhat brighter than Afghans, but there are still distinct similarities between the cultures that should be mentioned. These similarities have a nasty tendancy to slow down the passage of time around here, as they make me want to go out to the clearing barrel and empty a magazine or two just to get out pent-up aggression.

Now, I understand that maps are a little foreign. In places with no street signs, and in most places no addresses, map reading tends to be a bit of a lost art. By lost, I mean exactly where we would be if we left it up to these people.

The common problem is the statement, “It is a famous place. Everybody knows this place.” Okay. If it is so famous, how come I have no idea where it is? And how come you can’t tell me how to get there?

I have also gotten, when people are looking at maps that cover several hundred kilometers, “Well where is the chicken farm?” Funny. I think that is the question I just asked you. If I knew where it was, I wouldn’t have asked you to show me on the map, would I? Oh, and by the way, there must be 4,000,000 chicken farms in the general vicinity of Iraq. Have fun.

A personal favorite is actually getting them to follow a map without deviating into a field or a trash heap or through the middle of houses. Okay, my friend. If you know you follow the road to the end when you drive on it, follow it to the end on the map. In all reality, that is not a really challenging concept. I say things like, “Okay, but see you can’t go that way because you just cut through six people’s houses, a goat herd, a minefield, the Tigris, and two orchards.” And they just respond with, “You go THIS way. Then you go THIS way.” and use the same route.

My brain dies a little each day.


Moon Language

Filed under: — lana @ 12:20 pm

So I decided to start taking Arabic lessons, because saying “Hello how are you thank you very much” just doesn’t seem to cut it all the time… reference please some of my travels in The Stan. So there are some classes here and I said, “Boy, wouldn’t that be super!”

That was mistake number one.

Mistake number two came when I said, “Well, my friend who is a linguist taught me how to read the scribble before we left,” (a true statement… no longer are they child-like renderings reminiscent of me practicing my potential as an artiste - pronounced all French-like - upon the walls, but they are actual readable letters to me these days) “So I figure I can go straight to the intermediate level class!”

So I go to the class and I sit down and I pull out my little notebook and my little pen and quickly run over counting to ten… and then the teacher comes in and hands me a stack of papers that the class has already done. Not too scary, because a lot of it is alphabet. I got that, right? Mwa ha! We shall see!

Next he gives out a paper and says “Read!” so we read. I’m okay. I know how to do this. Then he says “Write!” Excuse me? That part was skipped in my training. And I was there without my crayons.

But, tongue sticking out the corner of my mouth and all, I managed to write what he said with only about a six minute lag behind him saying it and me figuring out how to write it. So I was still moderately in my league.

Then came the horror. His next command was the dreaded one: “Conjugate!”

Here is the problem: according to recent studies by yours truly, the Arabic language has no decisive “grammer rules” or “language patterns” or “anything that would make sense to someone who speaks English.” They do have “sun words” and “moon words” or something. Oh, that’s good. That’s promising and not all that creepy. Right. And I thought the Europeans were a little off with their masculine and feminine nouns. Now I don’t just have to worry about whether the chair is a boy or a girl, but if it resides in day or night. What?

But I will persue and persist… All the more people to whom I can listen in on their conversations on when riding the New York City subway systems when I get home… Look at that. Even my English is deteriorating… I think I need a vacation…

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