Everybody I work with speaks English as a second language. But there is one guy, Mo, he speaks French, Italian and Arabic but no English so we communicate with a lot of pointing. Also gives me a chance to work on my French which is nice.
Me and Mo seem to have found a liking in each other even though we can’t communicate. Last week I wanted to know how old he is and I know that the French word for “Birthday” is “anniversaire” so I asked him “Age?” nothing “Birthday?” silence “anniversaire?” He stared at me. I started singing Happy Birthday and the question finally made sense. He wrote “36” on the counter and pointed at me. After I wrote “21” he exclaimed “Bambini!” which means “baby” in Italian. Yeah, I’m really having a hard time with all the languages, but even so I am learning a great deal. I must say not being able to communicate can be really tiring especially when you are trying to remember certain words and have to abruptly stop talking in mid-sentence.
I kind of decided to start learning French again, but when I searched for my “learn to speak French” CDs I could only find “Learn to speak Italian”. Seems I forgot the French ones in South Africa. I work with 3 people who speak French and only 1 who can speak Italian. Also French is a world language which is known to many people so I could get around with it quite well. I have never tried to learn a language without CDs but at least I have google translate.
I asked the owner if I would be allowed to learn what they do in the office and how the books and all that works, he surprised me by immediately walking away and then I realized that he had gone to the office and was telling the Filipino girl there that I would be learning from her.
Most of the men in the morning shift can speak English, but in the night shift there is only one man who speaks broken English. It’s quite remarkable how much you can learn without language, just by pointing. And showing what to do and how it should be done. When I make mistakes it’s not rectified by talking, but by showing me what to do.
Since I am in Dubai most people speak Arabic and I try to pick up some words. The men work really quickly and asking them to go slow so that I can see what their hands are doing to the dough seems pointless. I asked one of my Arabic speaking friends how do you say “slowly” or “slow down” in Arabic and thus learned the word “sh-way sh-way” which means “Little bit” this helps a lot! With the exception of one chef who always works really quick most people show me slowly once and then carry on at their normal speed.
I work with 2 guys named Mohamed, one works the morning shift the other the evening one. Morning-Shift-Mohamed speaks English and Evening-Shift-Mohamed speaks French. Both of them are some of my favorite people there. The guy from Egypt has exceptional eyes. Actually all the people from Egypt that I have met have had extraordinary eyes.
I spent today at home in my own kitchen making 3 milk tarts (“le lait tarte”) for the guys at work since they have been asking to taste something traditionally South African and I’m also taking them a bag of “beskuit”. Along with the milk tarts I made mac and cheese. Oh, yeah that’s a new thing I’m trying out. Once a week I made a big healthy dish and proceed to eat it as lunch for the rest of the week.
Currently I’m busy with “White Fang” by Jack London. Wow, that guy was really, really good. I miss having a dog. Sometimes I struggle with his graphical descriptions of the dog fights but then again it’s that same knack of describing stuff that makes me enjoy his books. The Great Gatsby was almost a let-down for me, but I’m loving White Fang, so thankfully there are still good books available.
Looking forward to going to work. Yeah, I actually love baking. Despite all my errors and the language barrios, the working conditions I’m really enjoying it.The only downpoint for me at work is the bathroom. It really stinks in there and the floor is always dirty. But because I work between really hot ovens I got to hydrate and that leads to needing a bathroom but really it’s the only truly unbearable thing at work.
The other evening I couldn’t get a taxi home. I heard the next day that there was some problem with the taxi company but anyway. I walked home. It was so interesting. I work in like a “workers” neighborhood. It’s not as fancy and shiny as the tourism face that Dubai puts on in the big places. Normal people living normal lives. A basketball court filled with Filipino guys and as I walked I saw some people eating wraps. I accidentally passed by the stand where they had bought them and stood in line to buy one. A Filipino guy explained to me that I had to pay inside and after that come outside to place my order, only then did my eyes find the door. It was a really yummy wrap and as I’m writing this I’m thinking that I should take money to buy one for dinner tonight.
The neighborhood I work in is mostly Filipino people, and as I continued home I realized that there were suddenly more Pakistani men around me. It seems that there are invisible boundaries where the Filipino homes stop and the Pakistani homes begin. Most men are here alone, because it’s too expensive to bring your wife. Also the Filipino ladies don’t mind working, whereas according to my knowledge the Pakistani ladies don’t work at all and Dubai is an expensive city. Most men are married and send their families big chunks of their salary every month but cannot afford to have them living in Dubai. I carried on walking and finally spotted my building among all the tall buildings and then I knew where I was headed. I had never walked home before. I quite enjoyed it all have repeated it several times.
Time for lunch, a nap and then I’m off to work yay.