Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lao lessons and Lao Lao

You know you’re in a very foreign country when you realise the only words you can say are “hello” and “thank you”, and when even your water bottle label looks like some alien medical supply. Lao is not one of those languages you “just pick up” – and so, being the intrepid volunteers we are, we decided to embark upon a course of Lao lessons, taught by Mr Xay, who boasts arguably the best English of any of our Lao colleagues (and welcome enthusiasm for Pimm’s).
We quickly found though that his most-used English word is “no”. Imagine a group of alleged adults sitting in a classroom making very strange noises, immediately followed by his “no” and another (subtly different!) strange noise and you’ve got our classes. Bravely attended by myself (Sarah), Helia, Dan, Sushi and Yana, we have been valiantly soldiering on Sunday after Sunday, even in the face of adversities like “It’s hot” and “I underestimated the lao-lao” (local whisky).
On top of a newfound respect for our long suffering students, we have pciked up some great phraseslike “khoy pen aajan” (“I’m a teacher”....apparently) and even mastered the delicate difference between “duck” (“bpen”) and “spicy” (“phen”)...or maybe it was the other way ‘round? We’ll keep trying....