Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Do I Look Like?

Yesterday was a good day, but it left me still puzzled about the whole language thing.

First, the good parts.

My shipment from the commissary arrived. There was a mistake though...they DOUBLED my order of Diet Mt. Dew!

I now have TWENTY cases of Diet Mt. Dew.

This is NOT a bad thing.

I ration. One a day. I got through Jerusalem that way...only went one or two days without one.

Don't judge me. We all have our addictions.

So that means I have 240 days worth of Diet Mt. Dew. Plus I got a case of blueberry bagels. One bag in the fridge, the rest in the freezer. So I have bagels for a while (side note: why the hell doesn't Estonia have bagels? They don't even have bad bagels. I totally do not get it...this is a first world country, for heaven's sake!). My car still has a lovely blueberry smell from bringing them home.

So life is good.

And at the end of the day, I got an email from the PA section in Vilnius asking if I was interested in joining in with them to bring BETTY to the Balts.

Oh hell yeah!

For those of you who don't know, BETTY is pretty famous in the LGBT community. They did the theme song for the L Word and performed on the show numerous times. They are an alternative rock group and they will represent American culture and LGBT tolerance. And folks in my section tell me it has been a while since we have had a rock band here, and that this should go over really well. So it is still tentative, but I am really excited about it.

Now for the puzzling part.

Many folks tell me that people here just start of and stay in English with them here. I always figured they just weren't trying hard enough to use Estonian.

Now I am less sure.

Yesterday, I went to the sub place in the mall near the Embassy. There was a line, two guys and two women who seemed to be together. The guys were speaking Estonian, and though one appeared somewhat Asian (maybe Russian from the Steppes), he was speaking Estonian with his friend way more fluently than I do. And then the cashier came to take his order and spoke to him in English (after having spoken to the other guy in Estonian). He did his order in English and then she proceeded to take the women's orders, also in English.

Then she got to me...and spoke Estonian.

And I placed my order in Estonian. At one point, she asked me something in English, apologized, and switched back to Estonian!

Seriously...I am confused. I have noticed in the past that wherever I have gone, I had a cameleon-type tendency. By that, I mean that people usually I am mixed with something and whatever they are. Indian communities know I am mixed Indian. But it has happened among African Americans, Hispanics, and Jewish people as well (yes, I know that is a racist assumption that Jews somehow look alike, but it was Jewish people, not me, making that assumption, both in the states and in Jerusalem).

But I don't look Estonian. I have been told that I could look like someone from Saaremaa. And lately some have said that maybe they think I am Russian. I suppose that is possible...a couple Russians here have spoken to me in Russian, but mostly the Russians also speak to me in Estonian.

So I am at a loss...I am beginning to think that people are right that people speak to them in English. And I am happy that they don't speak to me in English. But I no longer have any idea why.

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