Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Definitive Chicken Nugget Moment

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I interned at a company in Kuwait one Christmas. One day, one of the employees asked me to find the price for something. She handed me a number and after countless draining phone calls, I finally found the person who could fill in the blank.

Me: Aloo, el salam. Law sama7t, momken itgooli 3an si3er X?

Man: Aloo? Mino ma3ay?

Now, after a dozen phone calls, I was conditioned to jump right in and ask for the price sans introductions. Most of the people I talked to gave me another number – usually a cell phone - to call before I got the chance to tell them who I am and who I was working for. In this particular case, I was a little bit embarrassed and that level of awkwardness did not help put my anxious stammer at ease.

Me: Ah, sorry. Ana… (elmoshkela eni moo mowathafa and I didn’t know the word ‘intern’ in Arabic!)…I’m an intern …I’m interning eb sharekat X, oo bes kent ba3aref 3an si3er X because…

Man: You can talk in English if you want.

Right then, between my stuttering and apprehension, I thought, "Damn! I'm doomed!"

Depeche Mode - World in My Eyes (Tripped Out Dub)
Jem - Amazing Life
Royksopp - Only This Moment (Chab Remix)
Royksopp - What Else Is There (Jacques Lu Cont Radio Mix)
Mekon - Yes Yes Y'all (Duke Demont Remix)

at 8:50 AM


  1. Blogger The Krispy Dixie posted at 10:08 AM  

    Its not that bad hun... I've not known the word in arabic a lot of times and I just switch over to english! trust me, its no biggie! :D

    but I can see how its embarassing at the time...

  2. Blogger Kleio posted at 1:05 PM  
    LOL we all do it. And we all get the same "sympathetic" tones on the phone. Don't worry, when you move back to Kuwait it'll get better. You should have seen me when I first moved back! I used to just make stuff up. Luckily my main jobs have all been 100% English internally, but of course you have to deal with members of the "public". If only we'd paid more attention to Mr. Hassan...

    PS...Royksopp's "What Else is There" Thin White Duke remix - WOO HOO!! That reminds me so much of this past summer. Stuart David Price, a.k.a Jacques Lu Cont, a.k.a. Thin White Duke is amazing. Talk about a man who knows how to remix. His "Mr. Brightside" remix was probably his best of all time. You can't not dance to that song - and by dance I mean jump 4 feet into the air. Preferably on a boat, in the middle of the sea, anchored off Kubbar island...
  3. Blogger Mother Courage posted at 1:32 PM  
    a trainee ... mutadariba! =)

    sometimes i feel sorry when i see arabs struggling with what's considered to be their "mother" language and rather switch to english!. read arabic books, it can help. =)
  4. Blogger Intlxpatr posted at 2:16 PM  
    You have a talent for telling a good story, and I love the photo you chose to illustrate!
  5. Blogger Angelo posted at 3:36 PM  
    Funny you mentioned that. I just gave a presentation on Bipolar Disorder and on my segment of the presentation, the word "Le2ana" slipped outta my tongue.
  6. Blogger familiar_stranger posted at 4:28 PM  
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
  7. Blogger Peony posted at 8:58 PM  
    Lol.. yeah, happened to me once.! lol
  8. Blogger Erzulie posted at 12:08 AM  
    krispy: The thing is, I can carry on a normal conversation and I'm fine. But there's something about the work environment that forces you to go back to "fo97a" i.e. classical Arabic terms. More formal that way...

    kleio: (you disappeared!) Mr.Hassan...hehe no...I don't think that guy is serious about REALLY enforcing Arabic in our school. And I love the phrase "you can't NOT dance." So true. But the 'bita3' that allows me to download stuff is acting up...I have to find other alternatives :P

    brava: I think if I say 'motadareba' I'll crack up. Is that even used? For me, motadareba=circus trainee. Well, like what I said to Krispy, I'm all right when it comes to normal conversations, but you tend to use more formal words in the biz.

    intl: :)

    fallen: Wehhh...yeah I do that all that time...mostly 'ya3ny'...

    familiar: oh yeah i'll check that out!

    peony: :)
  9. Blogger DiiGMaa posted at 3:00 PM  
    eekkhh story of my life !!
    so what is the translation in arabic ? :P
  10. Blogger Sloth posted at 4:46 PM  
    we all have our moments.. but hey .. i am starting a new revolution.. now when i speak in English to my collegues .. i deliberatly say.. inshalla.. yalla.. ya3ni.. even gum zain :P its fun ! hehe
  11. Blogger MBH posted at 9:46 PM  
    Due to the ever increasing amount of Badoo & harassment (girls) calls, I always answer in English. It's quite funny hearing the Badoo's response: "Men ent? 7amad? 7amaaad? MEN ENT? ...... YA RAJJAL HATHA AMREEKEE"

    But I got busted one time when called by a telemarketer :/

    I'm considering Japanese.
  12. Blogger Erzulie posted at 12:48 AM  
    digma: Hehe :P I don't know but "motadareba" sounds very...I don't know, but for some reason, there's a "physical" aspect to it i.e. jombaz :/

    sloth: Well I say those too! But when I was interning, almost everyone was speaking in English so that transition between slang and formal Arabic can be a bit...slippery :P

    mbh: Hehe :P~
  13. Blogger Hazolat posted at 11:08 PM  
    3ishtaw :-P

  14. Blogger Erzulie posted at 3:48 AM  
    Hazolat: Hehe :P

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