Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kul... Like Awesome

If you didn't already know there is a large population of Bhutanese refugees from Nepal here.  We have met several deaf.  Now, besides ASL, we are learning Nepalese sign language.  When we visit them, it's like we are stepping into another world.  It's made our time here bearable and has been a much needed challenge.  They are so warm and welcoming.  As you walk up to their door the aroma of various spices overwhelms you.  They are so appreciative of our visits that they normally provide us with fresh fruit, traditional dumplings, and hot milk tea.  We have had some other strange things (I don't know if you could call it food) offered us.  I'm willing to try anything.  Remember Durian, the stinky fruit?  It's not so bad.

Chamuni with her nephew in his pink sweatshirt.  They don't have much.  But isn't he adorable!  

The deaf have a few years of education or none at all.  The conditions that they lived in were pretty rough and Beda (one of the deaf men) always shares the horror stories of the times in Nepal.  It took us a long time to connect the little bits and pieces we were getting from this foreign sign language.  If you're interested in learning a little bit more, look at this website.  It's been quite a few months and we are really starting to be able to communicate well.  So proud of us!

I've been trying to get a video to show you what it looks like, but whenever I try, Beda doesn't go all Nepali but tries to use more of the ASL he is learning.  It's good, but I want to capture some Nepalese sign language to show you and it's just not happening. =)  It's been interesting at the meetings.  In Nepalese sign language the sign for love is the ASL sign for friend.  The Nepalese sign for friend is the ASL sign for marry.  You can imagine the confusion when Beda went up to everyone telling them he would like to be friends, but they thought he was saying do you want to marry me?  How cute!  Also, the language has a lot of the Indian head bob going on.  It's kind of like a bobble head movement.  Slight variations of the Indian head nod can mean yes, I understand, maybe, part of a question, and etc.  I catch myself doing it now! I will throw in a Nepalese sign all the time, too.  When you know a couple languages, it's amazing how your brain automatically switches back and forth knowing which language is better and easier to convey that specific thought.

Beda is married to Chamuni and they live with Beda's family all crammed in this small apartment.  Then there is Lawa, who is another deaf friend who lives in the same apartment complex with his family.  Their family is all hearing.  It's interesting, while we are sitting there teaching them, other Nepali neighbors will just walk in and sit down.  They will take in the spectacle of us signing, talk about us amongst themselves in Nepalese, and then just walk out.  No questions asked.  Not awkward at all.  It's also interesting that they all communicate with the deaf very well using the signs they know.  We can communicate using their sign language with the hearing that don't know any English.  The younger people do know some English, but somewhat limited.  Funny story.  Beda's younger brother and another friend were sitting there one day.  Beda's brother's name is Kul (pronounced like cool).  His friend said to us, "His name is Kul... like awesome!"  This has become our new catch phrase.  It's Kul, like awesome.  Huh?  Maybe you had to be there.  ; )

Other cultures are just fascinating, aren't they?  We will never run out of things to learn.  Isn't it exciting to see people try something for the first time?  It's all fresh and new, even if it is the most normal thing to you.  Like buckling a seatbelt or bowling.  Some coworkers at work had never tried Nutella (Crazy talk, I know!) and seeing them try it for the first time just made me happy.  Of course, the best is teaching the truth!  All the different people we come in contact with while doing our most excellent work, what would we ever want to do instead?  It's so Kul, like awesome!

I love how I went from talking about hair to talking about Nepal.  I am kind of all over the place.  But hey, this is my blog and I'll do what I want!

1 comment:

Cydney said...

I love this, Taylor! Our ministry really is the best.
I love all the details you poured into introducing us to this family. We have a ton of Napali people in our congregation right now; my brother was studying with a dude named Mega, which is also what we called his girlfriend at the time. It confused me most of the time. I confuse easily.

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