Let’s Start With A True Story
This week’s work commenced last Saturday when, while visiting a nearby mall, I told my husband “jangan bantu saya, mau berlatih bahasa indonesia saya” (do not help me, I want to practice my Indonesian).
I went in to a store selling women’s accessories and, as expected, was approached by the attendant. She was explaining something about an ongoing promotion, which I understood by just focusing on key words (and the promotional signs). I asked something in my broken Indonesian, she realized I didn’t speak the language and, as I have observed many times in the past, answered by speaking so very fast that all I understood was the language’s signature rolling “R” 😳
Good Lord, help me. Whenever this happens, I want to revert to English so that it’s them having the headache, not me! (That’s my frustrated reaction).
But I soldiered on.
I asked her to please speak slowly, that I was still learning the language – all this in perfect Indonesian because by now this phrase is burned into my brain. Her reaction was one I interpreted to be akin to mockery, complete with that side-smile and downcast eyes. She then removed herself from the scene/situation ☹️
Now, I am not saying they all react discouragingly like this (although I do remember another store attendant who also attended to me with an air of annoyance). I don’t know what that lady’s problem was or what she was thinking at the time. Although I managed to walk out that store with 2 sets of lovely earrings (and 2 bracelets for my eldest), I spent a good part of the weekend feeling disheartened.
Jeez, it sure feels like “arse” to feel incompetent like that.
Here’s how the rest of week 2 went:
Lesson 49. Done!
Lesson 50 & 51. Done!
The cleaning lady praises my efforts for learning the language. She calls me “pandai” (smart/clever). She goes as far as to compare me with other expat wives who go back to their home countries with nada an Indonesian word under their belts.
Finally some encouragement!
I feel like I’m Wonder Woman 😀
Lesson 52 & 53. Done!
Something unpleasant happened the evening before. So today I just want to soak my brain in positivity and possibility.
It took me all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to go back and tackle lesson 54 again.
Week 2 Conclusion:
On speaking with the locals ~ Most of the time, my frustration is that they don’t speak slowly when they reply. They only try to choose other words to explain the same thing but this just confuses me even more. They appreciate the effort I make, but it’s as though they get self-conscious when they respond that they just want to get it over with by speaking very fast and leaving it at that. And if the person being spoken to happens to know a bit of English, he will respond in English so that I am no better off than when I started.
But, I am fortunate to have a cleaning lady who knows enough English for us to be able to communicate. She’ll be taking on a more active role in this process moving forward 😁
It still feels like punishment.
… to week 3, and beyond!