Monday, April 20, 2015

Bahasa Indonesia

I've been studying bahasa Indonesia for 12 weeks now.  I take a weekly class, so I've logged a whopping 18 hours of local language study since 2015 began.  I've been feeling a bit stalled in my past few classes - like I should know the word, but it just doesn't come to my head.  My teachers tell me I need to practice.  I answer that with so little vocabulary, it is difficult to practice.  They look at me like they can't comprehend what I've just said.  I realize I'm offering excuses and we all move on with our day.

Knowing that they are correct, I resolved to speak in bahasa Indonesia (the Indonesian language) whenever able this week.  I went to the grocery store and placed my order at the meat counter in the local language.

Me: Mao ini.  (I want this)

Guy at the meat counter:  How much would you like?

His meat counter English is pretty good.

Me:  Um, darn it, how do you say 700?

Guy at the meat counter:  tujuh ratus

Me:  Oh yeah!  Tujuh ratus grams Australian minced beef.

It was labelled in English.  No need to further complicate things.

So then I walked to the other side of the meat counter, feeling confident.  This time I tried for the deli ham, kept in its own case because pork belongs in hidden corners of Indonesian groceries.

Me:  Mao ini.  (Remember?  I want this)

Guy at the other meat counter:  How much would you like?

Me:  (with confidence)  Etam grams.

Guy at the other meat counter:  Sorry?

Me:  Um, darn it, how do you say 4?

Guy at the meat counter:  Enam.

Me:  Oh yeah!  Saya mao enam (I want four).

Guy at the meat counter:  Enam ratus? (four hundred?)

Me:  Yeah.  Enam ratus.

See?  I've totally got this.

So, having clearly displayed my language skills, I was emboldened to try again.  The next day, I walked to my music class.  Class is very close to my house - I just need to walk through a manned gate.  Usually I drive because I bring so many instruments and materials with me, but our car was busy that day.  So I just planned to walk half of my instruments to the gate, leave them with the guards, and then return with the other half of my instruments.  Then I'd do the same thing at the other side of the gate.  The gate would serve as my midway.

As I approached the gate with my three bags of books, CDs and dancing scarves, the guard began to open it for me.  Beloum, I called out.  Not yet.  He closed the gate and I set down my things.  One minute I said, and I walked away.

When I returned with my boxes full of instruments, my bags had moved into the guard shack and the contents had been spread across their desk in a clearly puzzled fashion.  It seems I somehow implied that I was delivering gifts, rather than simply setting down my bags.  Surprised, I packed everything back up and carried it back out.  Maaf, I said.  Sorry!  I had no more vocabulary, and I felt bad for embarrassing them. 

The guard replied, in perfect English, No problem.  I'm sorry for the misunderstanding.  Would you like me to help you carry your things?

Yes please, I replied meekly.

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