Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Day of Firsts

So, today was quite a day of firsts for me. It marked the first Ramadan I've spent in a country where most people actually observe it. While we visited once before, we came in the middle and left before the end. Honestly, it wasn't much different for me. I am trying to be more cautious about taking food and drinks in the car with me while I rush off here and there. It's a bad habit I've gotten into. And, I snagged a spare desk in an office whose occupant was ill this morning so that I could snack and drink at work without negatively impacting anyone who was fasting. It's kind of funny, that. Everyone was telling me that the people who fast at work wouldn't mind. And, I know that. I work with a group of really great people. But, here's the thing. I have several reasons for going to an office populated only by Christians before eating and drinking. First, I like and respect the people I work with. I don't want to make their fasting any harder. I've been there and done that. When you're trying to get pregnant, it seems like all you see are pregnant ladies. When you're fasting, all you see is food. So, that's my first reason. My second one was, honestly, subconscious. My Mom mentioned to me tonight that Christianity tells me to not make it harder for people. I am specifically directed not to lead anyone astray. And, if your faith prescribes fasting, then by leading you into eating or drinking would clearly be leading you astray. So, I'm glad Mom brought it into my conscious mind.

The second first is quite personally exciting. I had my first real conversation in Arabic today. While I've had the in-class, scripted conversations, I haven't had a conversation where the outcome mattered if it weren't understood. So, let me describe it for you. I got a call at work today from home letting me know that we were out of gas. Unfortunately, Mom and the kids were in the middle of baking cookies. So, clearly, this was a tragedy in the making. I looked for Teta on-line to have her call our building concierge, but she wasn't on-line. So, then I thought about it. I realized I actually have the vocabulary for this conversation. So, I plucked up the nerve and placed the call. Here's how the conversation unfolded:

Me: Hello? Mu?
Mu: Ahlen, miin?
Me: MommaBean, mart El 3atal yihki.
Mu: Miin? Ahh, El 3atal's wife.
Me: Ayewah.
Mu: I'll come right up.
Me: La, la, la. Il ghas fahdi. Tgayyir lo samaht.
Mu: Oh, the gas, okay.
Me: Shukran.
Mu: Welcome. Oh, afwan.

And, the gas got changed instantly! Woohoo. Our first grade communications are actually occurring. Well, alright, a first grader's grammar would undoubtedly be better, but... I felt such a sense of accomplishment. It's nice to be able to do very minor talking on my own. I didn't even have to bother El 3atal with handling the situation. Score one very tiny point for the fabulous tutoring. And, might I add here, my tutor is a saint. If you heard my accent and my grammar you'd understand why I say that. Now, I'm off to do some studying. Looks like this is really paying off!

Here's to firsts!


At 12:34 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, I see you're well on your way to dominating the Arabic language, Excellent :D

At 9:00 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

I think you've got that backwards. I'm like the guy in WWF Wrestling who's down on the ground with a guy standing on his shoulder and twisting his arm back. Arabic is the guy standing on my shoulders :). But, see I'm pushing and trying to break free. One of these days maybe I will... :)

At 9:48 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It won't take you much to dominate the Arabic, few months more and you will be specking very fluently ;)

At 6:17 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Unfortunately, I'm not quite that optimistic. But, a few more YEARS and maybe I will be :). Thanks for the kinds thoughts though, both of you.

At 10:51 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats Momma bean!!! Pretty soon you'll find yourself telling off those circle bullies in fluent hakey with all the perfect head and hand motions.

At 5:34 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Indeed, kinzi, Thanks. Little by little as it were.


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