Monday, March 29, 2010

communication confusion

Whenever one is in a different culture  there are plenty of times for confusion in communication. Even though most people here in Gambia speak english there are still plenty of opportunities for miscommunications. This evening was a prime example. My friend Ansel came to visit last week and she informed me that she was going to see her tailor on Monday. I asked her if I could come along and see where her tailor was so that I could have a Gambian dress made for myself for any baby-naming ceremonies or funerals that may come up. My purpose in going was to look through the catalog of patterns and see what kind of work her tailor did. So when Ansel arrived this evening to go to the tailor in the market I was ready to go with her, but I did not bring extra money for fabric or a dress. As we entered the market we went into the first fabric shop that we came across and Ansel determined that it was too busy so we moved on. We went next store to the next fabric shop and quietly looked around, not seeing too many fabrics that i really liked, but giving Ansel an appropriate amount of time to choose a fabric she liked. She had the shop keeper pull a couple of different fabrics down for her to look at and she would ask my opinion, but since the conversation was happening in Mandinka I was unable to understand what was being said. After the conversation was over Ansel asked how many meters I needed and I finally realized that I was buying fabric for me and that she wasn't looking for her! I kindly let her know that I didn't want that fabric, but I realized that I would be finding fabric to have a dress made at that point. So I went on a journey to find a fabric that I liked enough to have a dress made. I had found one fabric that I had like in the past, but with the overturn of fabric I knew that I was unlikely that I would find it again. I knew that if I didn't find one soon that I would have to settle for a fabric that I didn't like all that much. Then we entered a shop that had the previous fabric that I liked and I found one that I really liked! I had eyed this fabric previously thinking that it would be too expensive so I always walked away, but today I asked about it and it wasn't bad! I bought six meters for about 6 dollars and then took my fabric to the tailor where I chose a pattern and paid 80 dalasi, slightly more than 3 dollars, for my dress to be made. Thankfully I had enough money to pay for these things, but the moral of the story is, be prepared for anything! I didn't think I would come back tonight with a dress being made for myself, but I did and I'm really excited about it!



  2. That is a funny story. It's a good thing you had some money. She must have been so excited to help you find material. Just think of the adventures you are having.