Thursday, June 30, 2011

Words...

As I am learning to live in a new land, I ask a lot of questions seeking to understand.  Often the answers are totally different than what I expect. 

Today, we passed a house with policemen at the gate and people gathered out front.  I noticed white tents on the property, so I assumed they were having a party.  Armed men were on the streets, yet no one seemed to be going inside.  When I asked about the happenings, Mutiu, our driver, simply said that the owner was late, so the people were around.  Late??  It was only 3:00 in the afternoon....Late from what?  Work?  When questioned again,  I was told "Late from London about 2 weeks".  Still baffled, I kept inquiring, obviously not understanding the conversation.  Mutiu finally shared that "Late" means dead.  (Yes, that would definitely constitute being late!)  He explained that the owner died in London a few weeks ago and was being brought back to the house to have a "wake-keeping".  They usually have a huge party to 'celebrate', so that explained the tents.  However, it did make me think that it's certainly better to be early than late! I'd hate to hear someone say, "Janet isn't here...She is late!"  

Many phrases here seem to end in "have".   For example...."I need an extension cord.  Do you have?"  It just seems like part of the sentence is missing to me.  "Do we need bread?"   "We have."  (So, does that mean YES that we have a need for bread or NO that we already have bread?)  Today, the maintenance man came up to our flat to hang 3 pictures.  I love it when they show up specifically to do a job with no tools or materials.  So after pointing out the walls where the pictures would be hung, I looked at his empty hands and asked, "Did you bring a drill?".  "We have."   "OK, where is it?"  "I come back."  So he leaves.....and returns with a drill containing an extremely large bit.  I inquired, "Do you have smaller bits for the drill since we don't need such a HUGE hole in the concrete wall for our small picture?"   "We have."  He looks in his 3 item toolbox and pulls out an even larger drill bit.   To me, "we have" just doesn't answer my question satisfactorily.  I persist with my questions and he leaves again to find a nail.....

Another phrase that I love is "Anytime from now".  When the question is asked, "When will it be repaired?"  "Oh....anytime from now."  Or "When will you return?"  "Anytime from now."  The surprising thing to me, is that this answer is accepted without question.   So I persist..."So does that mean tomorrow or next week?"   The answer is always, "Yes, Madam - anytime from now."   Jeez.....  

Another one I like is 'I am coming".    "Where are you - Mutiu?"   "I am coming."   "OK, but WHERE are you now?"   "I am coming."   "So, are you at the office?"  "Yes, I am coming, Madam."  Somedays, it is just better to give up and wait. 

However, I really love the word 'wahalla" and I like the way it just rolls off your tongue.  Wahallas are measured in sizes.  If you make the madam angry, there may be a BIG wahalla!!  :)  A gathering crowd on the street that causes us to turn around and go the other direction is a little wahalla.  Trying to drive down the street with rainwater up to the windows is a questionable wahalla.   Wahalla means trouble.............but NO wahalla is best.  It's used most often as in 'no problem'.   We are missing a piece...No wahalla!  No nails to hang pictures....no wahalla! 

So, anytime from now, if we happen to be late, a BIG wahalla we have....and we are no longer coming......

 
Capiche?

4 comments:

Randall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Randall said...

Do you understand? Have you understood? I do not understand?
Oh Well!

David said...

I like the doubles to accentuate:
I go now now = right now
Listen well well = pay attention
Seems once is not enough.....

Sam said...

Well every location has they're own phrases. As in where's Jim ? He went over "yonder". What direction is "Yonder" and how far away is it?
But don't worry Jim is "fixin'" to return after while, later on we're "fixin'" the car to go get some "fixins" for supper. When on the elevator do you press, push, or mash the buttons for your floor? If it doesn't move should we pitch a fit,throw a fit, or just have a fit.
It's different, but it's everywhere!
And in America there is group of people who never say late or dead, that person who is no loner alive is referred to as "Passed"