lessons in English

Perfect tense. Gerund nouns. Post positions. Agentive markers. Transitive Verbs. Intransitive, too. Oh yes my friends, these are actual parts of language, like adjective and noun, only harder and more complicated. Who would have thought that these would actually be applicable past 5th grade language class? Sweet Ms. Daily tried to warn me, but I sure didn't listen.

Husband and I are taking language classes at an actual school. It's fun to learn with 4 others, because we all make really funny mistakes, and it makes for comic relief when you have to ask for the thousandth time what the heck a compulsory infinitive is.

We joke about how we've learned so much more about English from learning a foreign language. It's so true, but living here, we learn a new English anyway. For example, if I were to call a repair shop and ask for a plumber to come on Wednesday to fix my water heater, they may or may not understand me. However, if I asked for a plum-ber to come on Wed-nes-day to fix my geyser, I'd be getting somewhere. And don't get me started on the British English. Also I bet you didn't know that most likely you buy some capsicum, courgettes or ladyfingers at least once a week. (bell peppers, zucchini or okra) Now to be fair, some of the vegetable sellers know our word for zucchini, but even then it wouldn't be pronounced with a 'z' but a 'j'. Another example, the first time I asked if someone had a garbage can, I was met with a blank look. It took several attempts before I found out the correct term is dustbin. Finally, add in the incorrect grammar we use daily to make our sentences more understandable to an ESL speaker, usually with an accent as well, and you've got us speaking an almost entirely different language. Okay not entirely, but I have learned how to correctly use words like proudy, foodie, and crowdy. Does that qualify as half-lingual?


yea for south asia!

This past weekend was a holiday that celebrates when major nations around the world recognized this country as a sovereign nation. We celebrated by going to watch the big parade. The day was pretty funny because our plans were changed all day. We couldn't go to the main show because they don't allow cameras there, and we didn't want to go without a camera. Our thinking on that was we'll have next year to go without a camera. So we tried for the end of the route, which seemed like a good idea at first. But after going through security, we were told we couldn't bring cameras through there, either. So we began walking. We didn't know where we were walking, but we had quite a big group with us, so walking wasn't too bad. Our friends had the idea to try to climb to the top of a building and sit on the roof and watch the parade, but the buildings had been closed. After quite a few turns and questions, we finally found a road where the parade went by. This place, since it was more out of the way, allowed cameras, and we found a place to stand. We didn't have any flags though, and husband and I wanted to wave around some flags and show some spirit. I saw a little girl with a flag, so I decided to go ask the woman that was with her where they had bought it. I even practiced how to say it first..."Where did you buy the flag?" When I questioned, she immediately responded in perfect English, "Oh her school gave it to her." She asked me to sit with them, and fed me juice and french fries. She was great to talk to and invited me back, so I am looking forward to hanging out with her and her family.

After waiting about an hour, the parade came down the road! It was so cool, I had never been so proud of this country before. There's just something about parades. I had read in the paper several articles on the days leading up to this day that the people, while very patriotic, are not outspoken about their love for the country. I witnessed this first hand while the military men from different states marched down the road. We crazy Americans were yelling and clapping, though, and it wore off on the those standing around us. Eventually they began to cheer and clap as well. It was so cool to see the different states' military. One state known for their turban-wearing came by with big bright red turbans on every man. Another state, located in the desert, came by riding on camels. And the most surprising one to me, the military men from the Himalayas came by with snow-skis strapped to their backs! The military here marches with very swinging arm motions, so that was interesting to see. Also, each unit had a band following them. The desert brigade's band also rode on the camels! It was definitely a first for me to see a man playing a tuba riding on a camel. The different states and some government organizations had made floats as well representing what they do. They were very creative, and we were all blown away by how well put together everything was. Some states had tigers and jungles, some had temples, some had people dancing or making clay pots. One, representing some kind of national safety organization, had people going through a metal detector! Kinda weird for a parade float, but it did give them visibility.

After the parade, a family invited us over for chai and sweets, so all 9 of us trooped over to their house. It was actually in a fire station.

Here are some pics from the parade. Remember, these are just a few of the floats!


You know you've been out of America for a long time when you play a word association game like Catch Phrase. Our friends hosted a game night last Saturday night and we would never say no to a game night. So a group of us, mostly newbies who have been in South Asia less than 2 weeks, played Catch Phrase. There were some of us, though, who have lived here a little too long. I say this because, well I'll just give one example that speaks for itself. When a person gives the clue of, "You take medicine for this..." it's not normal to shout out, "Diarrhea! Giardia!" Yet sadly, that is the first thing to pop into our heads.

The answer, by the way, was a migraine.


the best dog that ever lived

During her short 10 months of life, Chini brought so much joy to all of us who knew her. Any dog we ever take into our home again will have much to live up to. She passed away on Monday, the 15th, from acute pancreatitis (http://www.vetinfo.com/dencyclopedia/depancrea.html). Fortunately, it was a quick disease and even quicker death, which brought little suffering to our Chini-Bear. It only took 4 days to take its toll on her little body.
Many of our friends in the Capital came by or called to see how we were doing in the last few days while her condition was so critical. We love that they recognize what she meant to us. And Chini was gracious even on the day of her death. When J&S, our supervisors, came by to see how we were holding up, C
hini rose, with near-exhaustion, to greet "her" visitors. Her hospitality and friendliness are just a few of things we're going to miss from the best dog that ever lived.

With no monkeys around, bugs became her favorite prey here in the Capital. Not only would she pounce, paw, and kill the bugs, but she would literally take them in her mouth, shake them, and then roll around on their dead bodies. Is that dedication to the job or what?

On Christmas, one of our "nephews" taught her how to open her own presents!

People often commented on Rani Chini (Queen Chini) because she loved to snuggle in pretty pillows. I think more than anything, I'll miss snuggling with her. Believe me, you've never seen a dog snuggle with humans the way sweet Chini did.

I realize to some this may seem a bit cheesy to be so heartbroken over a dog, but believe me, she was way more than a dog to us. She was nothing short of family, and we miss her. A lot.


international marketing

Since I was an international business major in college, the cultural differences I see in business over here always interest me. Especially the obvious part of it in marketing. Some of the big brands in the states have made a niche here in Asia, some that you would expect like Coke and Lay's, and then some others that I am so completely surprised to see over here.

No matter what though, they've made changes necessary to their products and marketing to stay in business over here, and even corner some markets. Lay's chips have the "American" flavor
of sour cream and onion, but they also have a very popular Masala flavor. Cheetos over here taste nothing like they do in the states. The McDonald's here obviously has no Big Mac or even a cheeseburger, but it does have the McVeg Burger and the Maharaja Mac (made with chicken, of course). Pizza Hut just came out with a whole new line of South Asian pizzas, which honestly look really gross (do you like chickpeas and cottage cheese on your pizza?), but hey, they obviously did their research. And I liked the commercials for it anyway, with a famous Bollywood character telling everyone egjactly how good the new pizzas were.

These changes really don't sound so weird to me, maybe because I've been exposed to them for a year and a half now. But when we went to Thailand I was definitely surprised at how much the Thai people like corn. At KFC. In their sundaes. Hmmm...tasty? I tried to convince husband to taste the corn sundae, because he's always up for a good experiment. But even he shied away. When we were at the beach, ladies came around selling corn on the cob. On the beach! We didn't pass that up, and neither did a lot of people. I've never seen so much corn eaten on the beach in my life. Actually before that day, I'd never seen any corn eaten on the beach. We also noticed that Lay's had two special Thai flavors...lobster and nori seaweed. We did try the seaweed Lay's and I must say I like them.

I think McDonald's does the products the best, though. In metric system ruled Europe, they realized the quarter pounder would mean nothing, so they changed the name. I mentioned above some of the fun South Asian varieties of burgers, and in Thailand they had the new rice burger. Like I said, I love how culture changes brands, names, products and strategies. I always look for these things when I'm in a new country.

Anyone up for a rice burger?