It is always fun learning a new language and the stories of miscommunication abound. For instance, the other day I was waiting to pick my son up from the bus stop. I happened to be taking pictures of our immediate neighborhood and this piqued the interest of a neighbor. She came to ask me why I was taking pictures of her neighborhood. I am not fluent yet so I was picking up about every third word and I was pretty proud that I was getting the jist of the conversation.
I explained that I live here as well and that my family in the U.S. would like to see where I live; of course I did this while stumbling over my words, using grand gestures with my hands, and with the confidence of a toddler. She seemed to understand and then began to tell me about her apartment in the building adjacent to hers. She is renovating and will be renting it when it is finished. I expressed agreement that this was a good thing for her and she seemed very excited about it. It even had three rooms and they were good for her grandchildren.
My son arrived and she asked if he and I would like to come and see the apartment. Knowing that this country is renowned for its hospitality I knew that I shouldn’t refuse. I called my wife and told her that I would be seeing this woman’s apartment she was remodeling and; if, when I assessed the situation and it seemed like a long visit then I wanted her to come down.
When I got to the apartment she showed me around. It was very nice, not really my style, but I was happy that she was so proud. Her phone rang and then she handed it to me. I was startled a bit but I took the phone. It was her real estate agent asking me in English if I was interested in renting the apartment from her. She had thought that my interest in the apartment meant I wanted to rent it — she had quickly called her agent, but I hadn’t understood that part. Apparently every third word isn’t enough to understand the intricacies of a conversation yet. This is just another funny instance of practical motivation to learn the language here.