Learning English

Salom.

That’s the only Farsi word I’ve retained from the past few days. My roommate, on the other hand, seems to pick up a new phrase every time we talk.

In the process of talking, speaking to one another, I’m learning to speak English again. I speak slower and try not to mumble, mutter words under my breath. I repeat phrases, say them in different ways. I use hand gestures for words like “chopping” (not that that’s new for me). My roommate and I will shortly be the best Charades players in the building, uh, the apartment complex.

Yesterday I took her to her first American grocery store. I learned (and promptly forgot) the Farsi words for vegetable, honeydew, and cucumber. I realized how completely unhelpful I am when she started looking at beans and shrimp and trying to find loose-leaf tea and her particular type of untranslate-able breakfast cheese.

We took a long pause in the HEB aisle trying to figure out what dried vinegar was. Hand gestures and alternate vocabulary proved futile. When we got home, she held up a bag. “Dried vinegar!” I giggled a little, so she opened the fridge to show me fresh vinegar. “Those, my friend, are grapes. The dried ones are raisins.” We had a good laugh.

While preparing our gourmet frozen pizza dinner (that I over-cooked), she confirmed that I am Christian and asked me if I am religious. “You go to service, church, every Sunday, yes? You pray every day?” When her face showed astonishment, we tried to talk about prayer through a language, religious, and sleepiness barrier. We’ll have to try that conversation again another day.

Angoor: Farsi for “grape.”

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