Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I can speak a few words of Dzongkha, Feyer can speak a few phrases, and Strass can do short introductory conversations and sometimes pick out what other people are talking about. But overall, we live in a country where we do not speak the predominant language. Go outside downtown Thimphu, and any communication other than buying things (point at item, "Garadichimo?" "25, la" "Okay.") is extremely difficult. The strange thing about this it seems like communication is mostly non-verbal. Most everyone in the western world is familiar with the difficulty of transmitting exactly what you want to say by text message or email, or even by phone - physical presence makes all the difference in what gets said, to the point where you can sometimes tell exactly what is happening in a conversation just by observing two people. And even more to the point, the bonds of friendship seem transmitted not at all by what is said - shooting the shit is just that, talking about shit-nothing. Yet it is very difficult to establish camaradarie with people when there is no mutual language; the only successes we have had have been the kind established by simply being in each others' presence many, many times.