Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Khanoot

My lesson for today from Herr Detweiler Kazarian was to go to the Khanoot (small grocery shop) on the next street up from our house.  He wanted me to make a list of things we were lacking, take my drams (money) and buy what we needed BY MYSELF!; using only my Armenian language skills!  Kalem believes in full-emersion baptism (but to me it feels more like the-hold-you-under-water-until-you're-about-to-drown-method).  The only other name I could give his technique would be, "Fear Factor"!

At about 12:30pm Kalem booms, "Jonelle, You REALLY Need To Go To The Store, now…SHNELL!"  I think this is a common Kazarian tactic of throwing your loved ones into situations "to help them" or "for their own good" (am I correct Ron?)…it gets lost in the translation for me…I genteelly tried to explain the teaching method that is most beneficial to my learning.  1. Show me how to do it.  2. Do it but allow me to help.  3. Let me do it but help me if I need it. And FINALLY 4. I will do it on my own.  Praise God Kalem heard my request and he benevolently backed up from Stage 4 all the way to Stage 3! 

            So, at 1pm we made our way to the khanoot.  As Kalem and I stolled up Pagotz Dasna Meg (street #11) we greeted a few people and smiled (like only AMERICANS do).  When we got to the store the plump lady store owner was sitting outside with a nice arrangement of Gananchee (greens including tarragon, parsley, cilantro, green onions, radishes), Gazar or Sabgheen (carrots), Bazook (beets), Kartofil (potatoes), Chunsor (apples), Nareenj (oranges), Banan, Soghk (onions), and Khegamb (cabbage).  She was outside due to the "remodeling" going on inside on half of the store.  We greeted her with a, "Barev tsez" and went inside.  EXCELLENT!  There was only one other customer in the store and she was asking about Chameech (raisins).  The store owner (who has been to Fresno) started yelling, "Gayane…GAYANE, GAYANNEE, CHAMEECH, CHAMEECH OOZOOM EM!!!"  Then he turned to me.  I was ready.  List in hand.  No pressure.  I'm no good under pressure (well, not in Armenian anyway!)  As I was about to speak another woman walked in front of me and asked about the man's chickens?  Kalem yelled from the corner of the store, "Speak UP, Get In There!"  So I started.  I rattled off the list in my best Armenian and was doing okay, Dzu, Hatz, Madzoon…when I felt an uneasy feeling.  I turned for a moment and there in the khanoot were 10 people all looking at me!  They were looking at me because I was wearing my Nike tennis shoes.  There were looking at me because I was NOT wearing my Hottie Hyastansi Jeans.  They were looking at me because of the absolute clarity that I was speaking like a 2 year old not a 38 year old Armenian Woman.  They were looking at me because I was buying so much stuff!  Remember this is not a "store" where you get your own items.  Khanoots are much like deli's but EVERYTHING is behind the glass!  I started to panic.  My list was a bit blurry.  I didn't remember if I already asked for my Garak (butter) or not.  I was trying to hurry when I heard the Chameech Lady say to the Grocery.  "Who is this?  Is she trying to learn Armenian?"  With that said and the fact that I understood, I retorted.  "I owe, yev, na eem oosooceech!"  (Yes and he is my teacher!"  I don't know why I feel like I have do defend myself or that maybe they are looking down on me, but whatever the reason I came up swinging.  (As I type this I am abundantly aware that I sound like a very combative person…perhaps I need to look deeper into this…does anyone know a good therapist? : )  The clerk and the woman laughed and I felt the weight lifted.  I bought Zetoons (olives) and Apple Cider Vinegar and moved to the deli meat section.  "Uta sausleges." 8 Hot Dogs.  He grabbed a handful (they are all connected by the thin plastic wrap that coats the dogs then is twisted and attached to the next and so on) and noticed that they were in sets of three.  To this he stated, "No 8.  9!"  The same happens with kilos and ½ kilos of olives, cheese, beets…just make it even and easy!  I finished my "ordering" and paid the man.  The others were happy to see me go (especially the Chameech lady who was still waiting for someone to find the blasted things!  I told her to go to Circle K if she really wanted the best raisins!)  They were finally able to purchase their 200grams of butter, an ice cream cone or a loaf of bread!  No express lanes here (unless you cut in line!).  Inside was done now we made our way outside to the plump woman with the veggies.  She asked if I was Kalem's sister and then said she loved Judi and had a Tornig the same age as Jude, living in Beruit.  We made small talk while I actually got to select my own carrots and beets…well, sort of…I put the amount I wanted but I still ended up with more of both than I wanted…"just to make it even".  I paid her and we were off.  Kalem was uncharacteristically full of praise for my job at the khanoot and when I thanked him he said, "But you have to just buy a few things every other day or so…that's how they do it here!" EEAH!!!!!  If I wasn't in Armenia, and I wasn't so SUBMISSIVE and didn't have arms full of groceries I would have knocked him out!  (Yes, I see it again…latent maniacal tendencies!!)  Good eating and enjoy grocery shopping this week!  Love Jonelle


Curious George said...

In 1972, after graduation from high school, my friend and I went to Europe for 7 weeks. Our first day of shopping found us at a meat market ready to buy some sausage. I had the language right but I was unaware of the metric system. I proudly said, while pointing to some sausage, "Zwei gramms das bitte." Two grams of that please. Everyone one around us started to laugh. The nice lady behind the counter said, "Keine, Keine, zwei hundert, zwei hundert!" "No No, 200 grams!" I though she wanted me to buy 200 pounds of sausage! No way! She finally cut off 200 grams and placed it in my hand. I paid and humbly walked out of the store.

Mick Fuller said...

the only good therapist I know is OUT OF THE COUNTRY for SIX MORE MONTHS!!!

Rachel said...

I have been living in South Korea since July 07 and I don't speak a word of the Korean language! I haven't really been forced to , but even if I was I am not sure I would be very successful!:)So I am very impressed how much of the language you can speak! I love reading your blog , it is so fun and interesting!

Keidi said...

I think there's a language learning rule among missionaries going out into the field: spouses are never in the same language class. Everyone learns differently, and I guess it caused lots of unneccessary stress on lots of couples. So good job, Jonelle, putting up with your teacher! You'll get it. Right now you're absorbing. Production will come later. Promise!