He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress and for his children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lost in Translation

Living in Beirut, there are many times that I catch myself wondering how a particular thought or concept could have gotten so mangled and mixed up in translation when so many of the people here speak English and French along with Arabic. Being students of the culture and the people, we do our best to try and communicate with them in their heart language (usually Arabic) when we can, but there are certain situations where I don't even try because I know that whoever I'm communicating with speaks English just as well (if not better) than I do. For example- when I take the girls to the pediatrician we commmunicate in English and occasionally French simply because I don't yet trust my Arabic to explain ailments or request medication. Then there are those times that I DO try and use Arabic and come away flabbergasted that I was not understood. For example in ordering a happy meal at McDonalds, I might say "Bidee Happy Meal", translation, "I want a happy meal". The other day after repeating this three times, the person behind me steps up and says "she wants a happy meal". Good grief. But hey, at least I'm trying. Needless to say I have learned that there are times when I don't even want to risk being misunderstood so I just stick with English (like at the pediatricians). Well, after this weekend, I have another perfect example of being somehow completely misunderstood (actually ignored may be more like it but I"m going to give them the benefit of the doubt...). Anyway, Jason and I were able to have a night away on Friday night because Leah and Jami came and spent the night with our girls. We decided that it would be perfect timing for Mia to spend the night at the vet, get her check-up and get a good bath and trim so that the girls would only have to take care of the kids and not the dog too. Before I go on, let me show you a picture of sweet little Mia and her best buddy Naomi on the day that we took her to the vet...

Naomi and Mia have really become big buddies especially now that AJ and Maddie are back in school. As you can see, Mia is ever patient with Naomi's hugs and "luvin"... Anyway, back to the story.

So, Friday we took Mia to the vet for the night, and I decided that this would be one of those conversations best had in English, because I really didn't want anythign to get lost in translation. Our vet has actually spent a lot of time in America and his receptionist also speaks VERY good English so I wasn't worried about being misunderstood. The reason I was a little nervous, was because last time we took Mia to get "groomed" she came home looking like a rat. A few minutes after I had taken her to the vet, I got a call from the receptionist who said, "Excuse me, Mrs. Cox, do you want us to leave any hair on Mia?" I said, "oh please" but apparently it was a little late as she was quite pink and hairless when we picked her up. Thus the reason I wanted to communicate very clearly that we are quite fond of Mia's fluffiness and simply wanted them to groom around her eyes and help brush out her hair where it tends to get tangled. So the following is the conversation I had with the vet lady when dropping Mia off...

ME: "Please just wash her and trim her hair A LITTLE where it's tangled and where it's hanging in her eyes."

VET GIRL: "So you don't want a lot of hair cut?"

ME: "NO- we didn't like it last time when you cut it VERY short. Just a little please and help get some of the tangles out."

VET GIRL (holding up her finger to demonstrate): "So you only want about this much cut off (shows about 1/2 inch)?"

ME: "Yes, that's fine, but please don't do more than that besides where you trim around her eyes"

VET GIRL: "No problem (something commonly said by Lebanese people about everything- problem or not). We'll wash her also."

ME: (turning to leave): "That's great, but please don't cut her hair alot"

VET GIRL: "I understand"

So, it may sound like I was being abnoxious about not cutting the hair but I've liver here long enough to know that alot of times it may not matter what you want, they may or may not listen. (this unfortunately also applies to human hairdressers).

Anyway, you be the judge. Here is our sweet little Mia puppy now- do you think they listened to me?

POOR MIA!! I've taken to calling her "rat dog" much to Abbey and Maddie's dismay. The bad part is, not only did they completely not listen to me, but they tried to charge us more because they had to cut so much hair! Good grief.


AJ said...

poor dog!! is she freezing?! i understand your frustration. kind of makes you not want to go to the salon again either, eh?

AJ said...

who needs a book when i've got your blog to read on a snowy sunday afternoon? well done, kelli, and thanks for posting!

jccvi said...

I'm just glad when Sam doesn't bite the groomer.

Unknown said...

Maybe they only left 1/2 inch ON Mia. I would be cutting my own hair and even my dogs I think. At least it will grow back, just not very soon.

Kendra said...

Poor Mia puppy! She's got that 'I'm so humiliated' look on her face. She'll be fluffy again soon enough (hopefully!) :)