Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps


9/29/09 Conversation and Changes

It's amazing what a difference a conversation can make. Even a short conversation.

This afternoon, I had two brief chats with two of my favorite Berberville folks, Ali my hanut guy and Ama. I'll leave out the greeting ritual.

Ali: Hey! You feeling better?
Kauthar: Yeah, bit by bit, I'm getting better, thanks be to God.
Ali: Thanks be to God. So what can I get for you today?
Kauthar: I'd like some eggs and butter.
Ali: How much?
Kauthar: Small butter - the one in paper [[as opposed to the plastic tub]]. And four eggs.
Ali: [gathers them, brings them back to the counter] Want a bag?
Kauthar: No, just put them in this one [offering the sack full of freshly purchased veggies].
Ali: You don't think the eggs will break?
Kauthar: No. I mean, it's possible, but I doubt it.
Ali: You doubt it?
Kauthar: Yeah, I doubt it.
Ali: That's it, you pass.
Kauthar: What?
Ali: You officially know Tamazight. 'I doubt it.' Ha!
Kauthar (laughing): Come on, 'I doubt it' isn't even Tam, it's Arabic.
Ali: Doesn't matter. You get your diploma.
Kauthar: OK, thanks a lot. :D

I walk off with a giant grin on my face. There's still waaaay more that I can't say than that I can, but I like knowing that conversations like this one have become effortless. And dude, who doesn't like compliments?

A hundred yards later, I see Baba's truck pulling in front of my door. I start to walk to the driver's side, to greet him, but then I notice Ama in the passenger seat, so I walk to that window. Again, I'll skip the greetings.

Kauthar: Where did you go?
Ama: Down to [big city down south].
Kauthar: Oh, right, you wanted to visit the doctor there.
Ama: Yes, I visited the doctor.
Kauthar: So how did it go? Are you OK?
Ama: He found a problem. I have a [disease I don't recognize the name of].
Kauthar: May God give you health.
Ama: Amen. He says I need an operation.
Kauthar (looking at Baba, switching to French): Surgery??
Baba: Yes, surgery.
Kauthar (looking at Ama, back in Tam): May God grant you health.
Ama: Amen.
Kauthar: When? When will you get the operation? [Literally: When will he cut?]
Ama: Not for a while.
Baba (overlapping): Later.
Ama: And it'll be in Springfield, at the big hospital. You should come over tomorrow, OK? Come for lunch.
Kauthar: OK, yeah, of course. See you tomorrow.
Ama: Until tomorrow, inshallah.
Kauthar: Inshallah.

They drive off, and I turn to open my door. The grin had wiped off my face as soon as I heard the word "problem", and now I walked up the stairs with a heavy step.

Two short conversations.

Two mood swings.

Welcome to the life of a PCV.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps