Saturday, June 13, 2009

lost in the words...

I can not say that i have ever known that feeling of being totally lost in the language.  Having never been to another country, i am oblivious to that feeling.  But i am learning so much living in California. This area is 55% Asian 15% Hispanic 15% Indian (India) and only 7% Caucasian and a mix of other races making up the other percentage points.  Just by walking around each day i feel an odd sense of not belonging...

Hanjin (as seen in image above) is my brothers wife of almost 2 years.  She is super sweet and very quiet.  Each time she speaks to me, i try so hard to understand her.  I am not sure if it is that she is not speaking loud enough to be heard clearly, or if i am so-very-not use to translating the broken English spoken by a person not native to America... but there is a lot being lost in translation.

Today we went on an adventure alone with her.  It was i am sure the first of many to come.  She needed to go to the market, which seemed innocent enough of a trip.  I told my brother, "no problem, we can take her while you get some work done."  In the end i realized we were taking her to a Korean/Japanese/Asian market.  

I had been told before that this was an amazing place with lots of foreign goods.  The market itself was very neat, lots of normal foods, and many strange things that Americans probably would never eat (dried squid on a stick anyone?).  I love the Thai noodles that they make in the Thai restaurants but i can never find them in  a normal grocery store.  I was excited at the prospect of locating them in this store.  The asian noodle isle was huge!  Of course everything on the package was written in asian (which exact language i can not be sure), and of course Hanjin tried to communicate to me what kind of noodles i should buy.  I ended up with two different kinds because part of me was overwhelmed by the choices, and another part of me just wanted to satisfy her speaking to me saying, "you buy this one, no?" So i finally just said, "yes, i will buy this one" to a set of noodles.  Only to locate the ones i think i want (?) a few rows down.  I didn't have the heart to put the other set of noodles back on the shelf.  And i was kind of worried i would end up with dried anchovies if i grabbed the wrong item on the shelf. ;-) (ps- these WERE purchase by Hanjin)

The ride home was as quiet as the ride there.  I kept trying at talking to her about things, but i think she was just as unsure of having a conversation with me as much as i was with her.  We sat silently listening to the Juno soundtrack while Claire enjoyed her Asian doughnut and milk in the backseat.  This adventure was quite the learning lesson for me.  One day i wish to venture beyond our borders and see the world.  I only hope i can communicate on a level to where i do not feel like an outsider even when i am with family.  I really think i want to learn Korean now to make her life easier around us... not to mention being able to buy lots and lots of good noodles!

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