Monday, March 23, 2009

Arabic class - Monday March 23rd

Today I attended my first Arabic class. Janet picked us up, and the four of us went to Arabic class. Janet and Gennette attend Arabic class twice a week for two hours each session. They pay 15oo riyals for 2 months. In Qatar, their currency is also in riyals. In Saudi Arabia you take the number of riyals and divide it by 3.74, and in Qatar you take the number of riyals and divide it by 3.65, and that gives you US dollars. Lucy has put my calculator to good use! In this class there were 6 students. Gennette is originally from Costa Rica, Janet is from USA, a girl from England (who reminded us of Mindy McCurry), a boy from Brazil (who is here playing soccer), a guy from India, and a girl from Indonesia. Quite an international group! In class the teacher taught the names of the countries of the world and how to pronounce them in Arabic. There are 21 Arabic speaking countries. I thought of my son Jeff learning Arabic in college, and I have new respect for him taking tests and learning all this. Why does Jeff always learn the languages that don't use the English alphabet? This entry may be boring for some, but I'll teach you some Arabic. Thank you is "shukran", you're welcome is "afwan", How much is it? is "cum hada?" When a woman is talking to a man, she calls him "habibi" which mean "my love". However, when man is talking to a woman, he calls her "habipti". La means "no", and nam means "yes". North is "shamaal" since shamaals (sand storms) come out of the north. South is "januub". East is "sharq". West is "gharb". America is "Amarika". USA is "Al welayat al mutahida." The teacher went around the room and in Arabic asked each person where they were from. When she came to me, I replied, "Ana min Utah fe al welayat al mutahida." Yeah! I said my longest Arabic sentence! After Arabic class Janet took us to the Gold souks. Actually, this is an area of about 200 jewelry shops, some specializing in gold, others in silver, and some in both. I have never seen so many jewelry shops in one area. I had asked Eyad, Gennette's husband if people really bought that much jewelry and he said yes, that it is a huge part of their culture. He said a woman might have lots of jewelry (gold bangles, gold necklaces, gold earrings) and wear it for 5 years or so and then sell it back and replace it. It reminded me of a revolving jewelry wardrobe. Here jewelry is sold by the weight. So when you find earrings or a necklace that you like, they throw it on the scale and figure it from there. We took a taxi home and had some lunch. Then Gennette, Lucy and I spent the entire afternoon talking. We literally sat at Gennette's kitchen table for almost 4 hours and talked. Gennette told us about her life, about raising her sons as they attended Muslim schools, and how they ended up serving LDS missions. We had wonderful conversations! It was like a very long Institute class!!

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