Language is a landmine for hilarious moments at the least and appalling incidents at the worse. Here’s what I’ve heard or seen through the weeks of my adventures at Bekasi, Indonesia.
Vegetarian My Foot!
A group of people – friends and acquaintances – decided to dine at Pizza Hut somewhere in Pancoran (read: Panchoran) in Jakarta. Each was asked what topping/s for the pizza they wanted. Most were fine with anything and everything on it; one said she’d just eat around it and heap whatever topping she didn’t like onto someone’s plate; another passed on the pizza and went for the salad bar.
“Don’t you like pizza?” I asked her.
“I’m vegetarian. I only eat fish,” she clarified.
This English teacher has a problem with vocabulary and comprehension, I thought.
Where’s the Airsickness Bag?
A student was so intent in solving the Rubiks cube that he borrowed from a friend. He had been at it for several minutes and he was getting nowhere.
“This Rubiks cube is making me sick!” he exclaimed loudly.
“Oh, do you suffer from vertigo? Maybe you should stop,” I said.
“No, I don’t have vertigo. I can’t get this Rubiks cube right. It’s making me sick!”
My eyebrows furrowed, as I tried to decipher what he meant.
“Wait. Do you mean to say that you’re feeling frustrated?” she clarified.
“Yes, I am so frustrated with this Rubiks cube.”
Thank God for that. I didn’t have any vomit bag lying around my office.
I’m Not Lost
I’m bad with directions but I’m not that bad. I was certain I could find my way back to my office after a meeting with the Curriculum Directory of the school in the other building. But before I could say anything she was off to find me a map. That left me wondering because what I really needed was a folder to put in the exam papers of my Grade 10 students.
“Here you go. Here’s your map,” she said, taking my papers.
“I’m sorry but did I hear you say map?”
“Yes, I did. It’ll make it easier for you to carry your papers back to your office,” she said happily handing me the red folder with my exam papers in it.
Apparently, map – not the one you use to find your way around a place – means folder in the local context. Now, I really need a map – a linguistic map, that is.
One too Many
A t-shirt was on display at Pojok Busana, a retail store selling casual fashion, on the first floor of Metropolitan Mall. It said Addiction to Music – The Ipood.