Saturday, August 13, 2011

Language Barrier (or Jobs M will never do . . .)

It was a very surreal experience to wake up in someone else's house. . . .in PAKISTAN. I could hear S playing somewhere, but there was no one else in the house where I had been sleeping. I had pulled up these velvety cushions on the floor and M's Aunty had given me a blanket to sleep with. I found my way out of the house and out of the room and found M and S pretty easily and the baby was obviously happy surrounded by all of these cousins.

In the house where we stayed there were two young cousins, both boys. S was 11 months old when we went and the boys were 4 and 8. S was getting tons of attention and everyone was doting on her. I still had a headache, but M armed me with a 1.5 Liter bottle of water, and that helped quite a bit. I found myself trying my best to smile, widely, at everyone. I am, to this day, unable to string coherent sentences together in Urdu, but could understand most of what was said in Urdu. The problem was that the people in M's family tend to switch to Hindko when in the company of family. And then, M has friends who speak Punjabi and/or Pashto. . . so I was lost quite a bit.

M's best friend was married to a quite educated woman (I later discovered this was the cousin involved in arranging M's first marriage. . .the one who wanted to marry a woman whose family would not consent unless M married the particular woman he did. . . ) It became evident over the course of the trip that this friend felt like he "owed" M something. He became our voluntary chauffeur, refusing to allow us to take a taxi or rent a car for any trip we took. He took days off work and took us to meet family, invited us to dinner in his home, took us on shopping tours and even enlisted the help of his wife in negotiating bangle prices for me (haha.)

I felt guilty for a lot of the trip for not knowing the language. M's sister also tried to speak to me in the English that she knew, and we got quite good at using hand signals.

I learned, on this trip, that M is a HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE. . .I would say nearly worthless, translator.

4 comments:

  1. Go on, and on! Like details for this post :) Expand it! It is very promising :)

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  2. I read ur blog in one go, biting my nails..while reading some chapters.
    I do wonder how u manage the him being muslim part, it must cause some issues as i know it does for me and my bf, and me wondreing sometimes if it is the cultural thing or the islamic thing lol.
    Keep it up cant wait for the next one

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  3. ok now...wayyyy too much time has passed! continue plzzz

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