I’m currently spending a short amount of time in a country that has a different language and even a different alphabet than I’m used to. That means that, for the most part, I can’t understand people around me and I can’t even read the signs. But I have learned to recognize my numbers if they’re written, and I even learned how to say a few: 1/2, 4, 6, 7, and 9.
“How does that help?” you may ask. Actually, both of those skills have come in quite handy:
READING MY NUMBERS. Here, one way that you can get around is by Uber. If you’ve ever taken Uber before, you’ll know that you are given the license plate number of your Uber driver. On the app it actually shows us the license plate in “regular” numbers and letters, but that’s not what it looks like on the car. So even though I don’t know my letters, at least I can check to make sure that the numbers are correct (and then ask my friend who knows her letters to make sure that they’re correct, too) and help us find our Uber!
SAYING A FEW NUMBERS. Last night I wanted to buy some bananas. Now, I could have “cheated” and tried to see if he spoke English. I could have pantomimed and shown him 1 finger if I wanted 1 kilo. I could have drawn the number of kilos that I wanted in my hand, since I know how to draw them. Or, what I ended up doing, was to ask him for the bananas in his language, choosing between getting 1/2, 4, 6, 7, or 9 kilograms, since those are the only numbers I know how to say! I decided to just get a half of a kilo of bananas, since that’s about a pound and sounds like a reasonable amount of bananas. He started cutting some off the stalk and putting them on the scale, then asked me another question. It sounded like the kind of question that he might want an affirmative answer to, so I said yes and he finished weighing my bananas and handed them to me. (I still don’t have any idea what he asked me, though!) I then didn’t know how much they cost (it didn’t have a sign), so I gave him more than it should have cost and waited for change. (It’s a great way to make it look like you know what you’re doing when you really don’t!) He handed me the change, and I was then the happy owner of a half of a kilo of bananas, bought completely in this language with the few words I knew. And I even knew enough to tell him “thank you” at the end.