Saturday, June 4, 2011

Stuff that (linguistic field workers) like

I've been reading 'stuff expat aid workers like' since it started up six months ago. I was put into it by a friend doing aid work in Nepal - and while I occasionally find it hard to relate there are some posts that really hit home for me. For these you could do a find-and-replace with 'expat aid worker' and 'field linguist' and it would basically be a post on this blog. For these occasional gems SEAWL is the only 'stuff X like' blog that I always read.

The most recent post about 'having a guy for that' is so on the money with how I run my life in Nepal. I have my tailor, my shoe guy, my fabric guy, my Nepali sweets guy, my jeweller, my travel agent, my bookshop guy, my paan guy and all number of other specific people for specific jobs. Like the blog above mentions, I really like introducing friends and colleagues to 'my guys' and, of course, if you're going to Nepal I'll happily put you in touch with them.

Although the SEAWL post gives the impression that this set up is to make one feel more impressive when showing off in front of fellow foreigners, there are also other more practical reasons as to how these relationships develop. It's partly out of laziness - places like Kathmandu are big and if you want something but don't know where to start looking it can be a slow slow process. Once you found someone who'll get you what you need why go back to looking? Also, being such an old-ball giant white Nepali speaker means that going back to the same people every time circumvents the 'yes I do speak you language/no I'm not rich/I don't have kids/etc.' conversation. And finally, in a place where if always takes a little while to feel like you've got social connections, it's nice to have familiar faces to say hello to on your way though somewhere.

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