It’s Not Just Another Cup of Coffee in Another Cafe!
by Azelea Bakrie
I have to admit – I am not new to England. I have lived here for a year when I was 10 (my parents brought the family along from Malaysia as they did their Masters). As fate would have it, I have just recently married a lovely English man whom I met at random when we were both travelling around South East Asia, and now I find myself somewhat returning to ‘Old Blighty’.
As any migrant would tell you about moving in and out of the UK, the visa is THE big issue. One of the things you have to do before coming here to work, or live, is the English Language Test. The other is the process of application and its waiting time. Trust me, I’ve been forced to sit quiet for over four months for this.
So, what this basically means is that I have lots of free time – and I’m not the very patient type. But I have been meaning to read a lot of books that I just never got round to, and now’s the time to do it!
This also means that I’ve made it a habit to bring a book with me wherever I go, and stop by at every different coffee shop, patisserie or restaurant for a chance to sit down and read while enjoying a cup of coffee, and maybe something sweet to go along with it. While I am selfishly gaining more literary knowledge, caffeine, and weight, I also became more aware of how I am not the only foreigner around. It is through the coffee shops that I realise how diverse the society really is in London! At first, whatever that went on around me was perceived as blabber, noise and distraction, but now it seems that I can’t help but to ‘accidentally’ eavesdrop on conversations that are either nearby or just plain loud. The more I was exposed to this, the more I unconsciously develop an ability to somehow tell what language is being spoken, recognising and loving the different words, intonation or ways being used to describe the typical coffee, cake or muffin in either Italian, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Indian… and even the occasional other Malaysian. There was once I couldn’t help having coffee rushed out of my nose, when one lady from one end of the room shouted to her friend who was ordering at the counter at the other: “Kita duduk kat sini okay, ada mat salleh kacak kat meja sebelah” (We’re sitting here okay, there’s a good-looking guy at the table next-door)!
Of course, this has not made me want to be able to fluently speak all languages of the world, or becoming an ambitious, world-renowned international translator of a kind. But, I thought it would be nice to be able to carry a little conversation in every other language (and slowly does it) don’t you agree? Does anyone here want to share some commonly used phrases in different languages here? Come and share some with us!