Tuesday, May 30, 2006

How Hot is Hot?

We were asked a very good question: How hot is hot? Well, it's pretty hot, but it isn't terrible--however, since I really enjoy the heat you might want to take that with a grain of salt. Anyway, the average temperature in the summer is about 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). Today it was 92 degrees and that was pretty hot. Even in the school, although it is air conditioned, everyone was sweating.

The houses here are built to keep things cool. The walls are brick and cement and the floors are all marble. It makes things really cold - like the beginning of May when it was freezing inside but around 20 degrees Celsius outside. So, it isn't dreadfully hot inside but it is still rather warm.

The heat brought Andrew a very interesting situation yesterday. Our neighbours were installing new furniture all evening. Around 8:00 PM, the porter and our neighbour knocked on our door. Instead of actually talking to Andrew they say (in Arabic), "Water, water? It's hot outside! Water." They then start waving their hands in front of their faces and panting. Andrew thinks to himself, They must be thirsty from all their work and have run out of water and want to borrow some. So Andrew goes to the fridge and pulls out a bottle of water and tries to give it to them. They refused it but said again, "Water, water? It is very hot outside!" Andrew's like, "Yeah, it's hot..." but still had no idea what they were getting at. So, the porter left and came back with a 20 liter container of water and said, "1 JD." It turns out they were trying to sell us water, not borrow any. Since we had been trying to find a place that sells water in large containers (we'd been buying 1 litre- 5 litre containers and go through them really fast!) we were really excited. Plus, this is way cheaper. Andrew starts to pull out his wallet but then they say (in Arabic), "Change! Change!" So Andrew thinks to himself, They don't want me to give them bills...they want coins. Okay. He starts pulling change out of his pocket so that he can pay them with his coinage. But then they say, "Old one, new one." and Andrew realizes that they are asking if we have an empty container to trade with them. We didn't so he paid them 1 JD and they left. So, now we have 20 litres of drinking water that will be replaced each week. Andrew was quite embarrased about his miscommunications. We often find ourselves wishing that people would speak to us in full sentences. People find it hard to believe that, as Americans, we can speak any Arabic at all, therefore, they will either speak English to us (even though their English might be worse than our Arabic), or they speak in baby-talk to us. But, as Andrew learns more and becomes more fluent more and more people talk to him. They realize that he actually does understand and that he actually can speak. It's what we call the "talking-dog" syndrome. People listen to what you say and then tell you that they don't understand what you are saying. You'll say what you say again and they think, "Wow! That dog is talking!" but they don't respond. You say it a third time and they think, "That dog is talking and I know what it's saying!"

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