There’s a tailor who works right next to the entrance of my host family’s apartment complex. In fact, she’s really friendly with my host mom and comes in often to use the bathroom; there’s also a door in our living room that opens directly to where she works. She and I greet each other whenever we cross paths, too.
Today a woman came to the tailor outside our apartment to get her daughter’s dress altered.
She spoke neither French nor Darija. The tailor speaks Darija but no French.
So the tailor called my host mom, who speaks French, because she thought my host mom could help. Then my host mom opened the door from our living room to the tailor’s shop. The woman started speaking to her in some basic English but my host mom couldn’t understand her. I was sitting in my room with the door open, doing work on my laptop, until I realized that the English wasn’t coming from the TV. So I stood up and walked to the door to see what was going on.
The dress she was holding in her hand was a qipao, a traditional Chinese dress.
And she spoke Chinese! I was so surprised. I did a double take. I’ve seen/talked to someone Chinese only twice since my time here, both at a nearby Chinese restaurant.
So we started talking to each other. Her family is here in Morocco because her husband works for the Chinese Embassy in Rabat. Her small daughter was to perform at a Chinese New Year celebration at the embassy tomorrow and so she needed the dress to be altered ASAP.
She then told me all the alterations she wanted, what time she wanted them by, and also asked how much it would cost. I translated all of that from Chinese to French for my host mom. Then Fatiha (my host mom) translated my French to Darija for the tailor.
It turned out well. The dress got altered the way she wanted it. I met someone new.
- I was reminded that Chinese hospitality is like Moroccan hospitality. People are so nice to strangers.
- Speaking lots of languages can, again, connect you with so many people.
- In the last four months I’ve only really used Chinese three times. Today was the first time that I realized that not having practiced Chinese made speaking it a lot more difficult for me—in fact, I was better at speaking French to my host mom than I was speaking Chinese to the visitor. I still understand more Chinese than I do French, and I read Chinese, but being good at speaking a language requires practice. I Skyped my mom afterwards and we agreed that from now that we would Skype more often and in Chinese so I can continue speaking it.
such a #smallyesvictory 🙂