Arabic Lessons in the market
I confess that I posted this on FB over a year ago, but this afternoon I was in the same market, talking to the same people. My Arabic continues to improve, and the relationships continue to grow.
Today I walked to the market in my village to get vegetables for the week. This is a more satisfying place to practice my Arabic than with my Muslim friend Ali. Me and Ali try to talk about spiritual things,which doesn’t get covered in my class. BUT if you speak Arabic and want to talk about fruit (fawaka) and vegetables (xudra) and buying stuff in stores (dukaan), I’m your guy.
So, at the market today I do everything in Arabic. I ask my friend who works there to slice off a half kilo of bananas for me (Badi kilu nus mauz), and the owner at the counter gives me this huge smile and thumbs up.
I get to the counter to pay for my stuff, which comes to twenty seven thousand lira (sab-ah wa eishreen alf lira) and I only have twenty thousand (eishreen alf) on me. I explain that I want to leave the groceries here while I get more cash from home (Badi aruuh la bayti hata axuud aktar fluus), but the owner stops me and says “Xudu halhein. Idfa-a bukra. Hada dukaanak” (Take it now. Pay tomorrow. This is your store).
Here in the Middle East, it’s all about relationship. Fact is, there’s always enough people around who know English that I could get by fine without learning Arabic. But you should have seen the store owner’s smile when he saw this crazy American get his language right.
They love it that I love the place that they love, and that I care enough to learn their heart language. That’s the stuff that matters. That’s why I keep working at my Arabic. Can’t wait to see what happens when I can talk about more than vegetables.