Thursday, August 16, 2007

it's interesting how we can never be aware of certain things until some one points it out to you, otherwise it would never have really occurred to us.

the other day at work i was talking to an elderly English lady who had an appointment, she was sat down waiting to see the doctor and i do tend to have a chat with her when she comes in.

whilst chatting away, an Arab patient walks in and makes an appointment, talking to me in Arabic and of course i would reply back in Arabic.

when the Arab patient left, the English lady turned around to me and asked:

'so how long did it take for you to pick up the language'

at first i thought she meant the English language, and before i could answer she added:

'there language, how long did it take for you to learn that language that lady was talking to you in?'

to which i replied 'Arabic you mean?'

old lady: 'yeh, whatever it is'

me: well since a child really, my background is actually Arab'

old lady: 'what? your one of them?'


me: yes.

old lady: 'i would never have thought it, I'm gobsmacked'

me: laughing 'whys that then?'

old lady: 'well, darling don't get upset or nothing, its just that whenever we come ere, your always offering us smiles and asking about us, and your all friendly like, and its always a pleasure to talk to you and to see you'

me: 'aaaaaaw thanks' (blush blush)

old lady: 'but what really gets me is sometimes when I'm sat here in reception, and there are a bunch of ladies talking in there language, i cant but help thinking that there talking about me, they would look over at me then turn to each other and start talking in there language, and i know your probably thinking there not talking about me but i cant help but think they are, and it really is one of my pet peeves, i cant stand it.

me: 'oh right, well no one likes to think there being spoken about'

old lady: 'yes well, i have spoken out before like the other day at the corner shop where every day for the past few months every time i walk in there, 2 Asian girls are doing exactly what i explained to you, and it reached a stage where i came up to them and said, listen young girl I'm old enough to be your mother! so if you have something to say to me then i would appreciate some common courtesy and say it to my face in a language i understand'

me: how did they take it?

old Lady: oh they where apologetic, telling me they meant no harm and that they weren't talking about me, but how am i supposed to know that.

now you could argue that this particular lady is one paranoid woman, or extremely nosy, but either way she does have a point to some extent, even in Islam it tells us that if there are 3 people in a room then don't whisper or talk quietly in front of the 3rd person for fear of making that person feel left out, feel that there being spoken about etc..

and we can easily do that in the presence of others through talking in a different language, and it can be frustrating.

i come from a circle of friends from many different backgrounds, and if i am with one friend who speaks Arabic and another who doesn't, then i wont speak Arabic, i will speak the language that we all share which is English so as not to make the person feel left out.

i thought it was interesting how this lady presumed i wasn't 'ethnic' due to the fact that i make an effort of 'smiling, talking to her in English, asking about her etc'.

we have to be aware of how we are seen by others.


ibeebarbie said...

Salam White African,
Interesting indeed! LOL@being one of "THOSE" people. As if that makes you any less human. I hate when people make those ignorant comments, "oh you're one of those people", "oh, I didn't know you were one of those", etc. Moreover, how insecure to feel someone was even taking the time to notice her to even be speaking about her....LOL Anyway, she did notice your wonderfully good heart for she couldn't help but notice due to your engaging personality. Bravo to you. :-)

programmer craig said...

Yeah, but a lot of the time "those people" really are talking about you :)

My ex-wife is Chinese and most of her family and friends didn't speak much if any English. And the "gweilo" kind of gives it away, when you are the only gweilo in the room!

Luckily I had my Father-in-Law on my side and he'd always correct waiters and waitresses, etc, when they'd start in on me.

white african said...

ibee wasslam, thanks , blush blush lol.

yeh it is annoying when people use the worde 'you people' i hear that alot but usually i ignore it occasionaly though i will kick up a fuss, it depends on whose saying it and whether there just down right ignorent or racist.

programmer true :)

'gweilo' now thats an interesting word, maybe i will listenm out for it, i learn something new ech day :)

eternal peace said...

salam alaikum sis

yeah this is my pet hate too and i try my very best not to chat in languages other ppl dont understand makes it a bit awakward though when other ppl start talking to you in other languages and the rest of the people don't understand, and no matter how much you insist on talking english or the common language they still insist in talking in the language ppl dont understand.
its quite common in my workplace unfortunatley for collegues to speak thier own ethnic languahges even if the rest of dont understand, and i agree with the eldery woman it gets you parnoid!
take care

Chatalaine / شاتالاين said...

You have hit apon a problem that we are having here in the States. In some place there are so many Spanish speaking people that the English speaking Americans feel left out/talked about or whatever. As a result we have begun venting our anger at the mass of illegals that are coming into the States and not even trying to be apart of our country but rather trying to change it into Mexico. We are a country that prides ourself on the many backgrounds that our citizen come from yet we are one. The Spanish speaking public has made it quite clear that they do not want to be a part of us as a whole.

Asia said...

i know what your little old lady friend meant, its just drives me crazy when people talk in another language and like i dont understand...but that purely because im a nosey mare, and hey if theyre talking about me, i wanna know eactly how beautiful it is that they think i am haha!! woohoo toot toot...!! how are you my lovley...ooooh yes i feel your pain about the whole toilet in the street issue, i had that once with a gentleman who exposed himself, i was traumatised for weeks on end, shivering at the thought of well you know...*shrugs shoulders* anyways how are you?? woohoo i cant be bothered blogging anymore its too hard a job to do that, hence why i believe i should just be given my own tv show, so all my groupies can enjoy the trivial events of my life on a day to day basis, i hope to take over the world!! muhahaha!!

a_akak said...

i agree with the general principle but you have to admit it that it is fun to do it to other and its even better when u r pointing your finger at them :P not that IIIII would do it or anything :P no seriously i would understand where she is coming from, in libya some of my friends show off their broken english and they speak together in english and sometimes a person within the group does not understand enlglish and that ticks me off but what i do to these particular friends is reply in the arabic when they speak english and in English when the speak arabic

good topic :) thanks WA u truly are a Star in a bleak world

Fe Aman Allah

white african said...

eternal wallaykum assalalm sis

it is annoying when people are intent on speaking or replying back in a language others around them dont understand, and i always feel like im responsible for some bizarre reason, but i do ensure that i dont fall into that trap because what we hate for ourselves we hate for others.

chatalaine unfortunatly one of the affects of this problem of speaking in a language people dont understand is that feeling of hatred can develop towards one another and then seeps in the racisim, its such a simple thing yet so much back lash can happen due to it.

white african said...

asia sis, your own tv show, my god i can just imagine the craziness lol, but i say go for it its about time there was some talent on television :)

trust you to have some weirdo exposing himslef, oh the trauma, im feeling youhun, want me to erase that part of your life from your memory?

akak lol @ pointing finger at them, why is it that alot of arabs and asians like to show of there 'english' slipping it into conversation when your leats expecting it lol, what they dont realise is that it sounds really funny.

Weldemdina said...

Few years ago I used to work with a company which half of its staff were Asians, and in my team there used to be few who chat in their own language, “ urdu or Bengali” which I found it irritating and rude to do so, not because they might be talking about me, far from it as that doesn’t bother me at all, but it wasn’t a good manner to do so.

Some managers even asked everyone not to use their native languages during work hours unless it was related to work, which is understandable, but unfortunately they tend to do exactly the opposite, it’s a hard habit to break I guess.

If these people couldn’t speak English then you wouldn’t blame them for speaking in their own languages, but if they do then its not right and I think that’s pure ignorance.

white african said...

weld your right its ill mannered, but the problem in socitey generrally is that people have become selfish, extremley so and the idea of wishing for others what you would wish for yourself is slowly becoming extinct.

its needs reviving..

No1-Honest Enough said...

Thanks sister for this post.
Is it stranger to me to talk about this.
i chated with ahmed when we met about the same Subject.

i hated when i sit with girls peaking english togthers when they know that i cant` speak so fast and really good with them.
But i can understand them sometimes.
why they cant` speak Arabic i dont` know.,amaybe trying to talk about something that they dont` want me to hear or talking about me,or trying to brove something for themselvies and for others.

i remember when i have met a man from Austri with my friends,he knew few arabic words.i was explaning to him what i am talking with my friend,and explaning to my friend what i am talking about it with Ervin.
she cant` speak english.and he cant` speak arabic..!

i think you did the right thing.
Out of the Subjects.
i really enjoying looking to your photes.
i have added you to my have to see the groups that i joined them then try to post ur photes see how others looking to ur wanderfull shots.
You are so Cool.

white african said...

hibo your english is good mashallah, and im sure it improves as the days go by, soon you will be talking just as fast as these girls :)

thanks for letting me know about flickr and i love your photos mashallah.