I was able to ask a taksi driver, “bachinda?” (how much?), and understand the answer (chwar hizar – 4,000 dinar). I would say that’s a successful outing!
Other useful taxi phrases:
- ira = here (ira bash – here’s good.)
- rast = straight
- cha = four
- pensch = five (yep, definitely an indo-european language)
- hizar = 1,000 (so one hizar is a 1,000 dinar note)
We went out to eat, and the menu was duplicated in English and Kurdish, so I took out my dorky little reporter’s notebook and jotted down Arabic numerals because the prices were side-by-side. I now know how to recognize 0,1,3,5,6,7, and 8. My knowledge of Kurdish is like a patchwork quilt.
Also, a phrase people (even gringos) use a lot is inshallah, which means “god willing.” Like, “I want to be a doctor when I grow up, inshallah.” Or, “If I like this job, inshallah, I’ll stay for another year.” Kind of like baruch hashem, meaning roughly “blessed be his name,” in Israel. These phrases remind you that you don’t do anything alone – literally they thank G-d for what we have, but I also like to think of these phrases as representing the idea that it takes a village to raise a child. We have to thank those that help us, and we constantly forget to do so. So I think it’s nice to have a phrase to use that reminds us that we can’t do it all ourselves. We’re part of something bigger.
Fun fact: in grocery stores you have to pay for produce separately. The greengrocer had to chase us down in the supermarket today as we went to pay for both plastic baggies and carrots at the same register. The gall of us.
And I’ve figured out a quick conversion of usd to dinar – $20 equals 25,000 dinar. That’ll make it much easier to figure out whether someone’s overcharging me or not.
Tomorrow is teacher training again. I found some real coffee (!!!!!!) at the market – well, it’s not good coffee, it’s Maxwell House, but at least it’s beans and not instant. So I’m taking my thermos of coffee to training in an effort to stay upright in my chair. These lectures are so boring, that even when I’m not suffering from jet-lag I’m prone to falling asleep.