So maybe I’m not quite so lucky: my host brother is kind of a disgusting human being. It’s not really his fault–as a 19-year-old guy he’s almost biologically mandated to be a disgusting human being, but my god, the horror.
Every single conversation he has with his parents, without exception, is him yelling at them, while they calmly try to talk to him. I don’t really know what they’re arguing about, but I can glean some details from the random words I know. Mostly it’s about the car: his sister gets to drive the car at night but he needs it to go to the gym or wherever. And today at lunch there was yogurt with cucumbers, and instead of asking politely for plain yogurt, he just yelled for awhile until his mom got up and got the regular yogurt for him. (As an aside, who the hell doesn’t like yogurt with cucumbers? People who yell at their nice mothers, that’s who.) He secretly smokes in the bathroom, a painfully obvious fact to everyone in the house. And he has the worst table manners ever, yelling with a mouthful of food. Basically, he sucks.
That’s a bit of random rant, but I just needed to get it out of my system. My meals with the family, which are only Friday and Saturday (other times I eat alone because my schedule is different from theirs), consist of me sitting silently, eating, while my brother argues with his parents. And every day there’s some sort of yelling match that I hear from my room. It gets to be a very tense and uncomfortable environment for me, even though I’m a bit detached because I have no idea what’s going on and played no part in the argument.
My host parents are great, but I’m having trouble communicating. I want to show my mom how much I appreciate her making me vegetarian food every day (today there were stuffed peppers and eggplants, the aforementioned yogurt, and vegetable soup), but all I can say is “Praise God, everything was very good, thank you” which gets to sound trite and ordinary after awhile. I would know how to show in Farsi or English if something was extra extra good and I loved it or if something was just adequate, but I don’t know how to do the same in Arabic.
I’ve basically locked myself in the house today. We had plans for seeing the soccer game, but the weather is pretty terrible and I have about 150 new Arabic words to memorize, so I decided to just be super lazy today, stay in bed, and study. On my vocabulary list are such useful words as to trust, to be surprised, to miss, and income, and then of course the random words we for some reason learn but will never use–beehive, small eggs, to take hostage, and clever student, among others.
Some friends and I started planning Syria/Lebanon Spring Break 2009 Extravaganza yesterday (no more India), and we think we might be able to do it for under $1000 each, which would be great for a 9-day vacation. I’ll post a more detailed budget later for those of you interested in making the same trek sometime in the future. I don’t think I can explain how incredibly excited I am for both countries, and then to spend an entire summer in Lebanon after this semester is over. But before I can let myself think about that, I have to memorize the Arabic word for “to cut hair.”