<<Les fruits dépassent les promesses des fleurs.>> . . . . . <<The fruits surpass the promises of the flowers.>>
Having the local artisans so close to where we worked was very convenient. It meant that we could draw up a detail of a door handle or latch, walk down the street to the blacksmith and ask them to make it for us. As most local artisans did not know how to read drawings, often our ideas had to be communicated to them verbally.Taking advantage of my ‘Farsi skills’, my colleagues often asked me to accompany them to various workshops.
A few days before my departure one of my colleagues, Mike, walked into the office and said, ‘I am just coming from the blacksmith. He was asking after you.’ Surprised, I asked, ‘What did he want?’ The reply came with a big grin, ‘I don’t know. He was just asking me where the American lady was?’ Everybody in the office broke into laugher. I waited for them to quiet down before I added jokingly, ‘Oh no! My life is in an even bigger danger than I had originally thought. He thinks I am American?’ Mike replied, ‘I think he believes he has been speaking English to you all this time.’
Although Dari is considered an older version of Farsi, it is spoken in a different accent and, as I soon found out, many everyday objects have different names in Dari. While my communication skills with the locals were much better than my European colleagues’, they were by no means as perfect as they could have been. So I was rather pleased with myself to find that my Dari skills seemed to improve rapidly during my short stay in Kabul. After all, my comprehension seemed to steadily improve every day.
All would have been well, if only I had stayed away form the site on that last Thursday. On my final day at work, when going around to say my goodbyes, I found out that as word had began to spread that I was of Iranian origin, completely unbeknownst to me, many locals who had spent years in Iran had begun speaking Farsi to and around me. In other words, not only were my Dari skills not improving at all, apparently I couldn’t even tell the difference between Farsi and Dari!
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