Jalan Sehala

Since a couple of weeks people call me frequently 'Kaka', which is the Dutch word for 'shit'. I can imagine you can make a series of totally-not-predictable and absolutely-not-silly jokes and comments about it. Be my guest!

Most of the time I think it's fine, this new way in which I get addressed. It's a sign of respect and appreciation, as it's used to approach women who are older than yourself. Older, that's the key word in this definition. So often it's ok for me that people call me Kaka, but not those many, (many) times that somebody who looks a b s o l u t e l y not younger than me used Kaka to address me. I have an ego you know and it can be big.

I've realised recently that it is actually more than 15 years ago that I've learned a new language. And Bahasa Malay, you can say it's a true challenge. Grammar? Simple. Vocabulary? It's hell. But one day this language will reveal to me. I think. I hope.

Waiting for the moment that this revelation will take place, I just pretend to speak Malay. This leads to searching for hours for a street called Jalan Sehala on my map. Jalan means street, that I knew already (it also means walking and jalan jalan translates to "Come on, let's go"). Sehala, that word I didn't know. And unfortunately, even after a long search, I didn't find this street on my map. Later on I found out Sehala means 'one direction'.

Furthermore this pretending leads to me calling my Malay friend 'stab' – salang- in stead of 'darling' -sayang. (Why does he looks so confused all of a sudden?). And when I'm in a pub I say “Saya sudah bir” –I was a beer- (maybe in a previous life) instead of “Saya suka bir” (I would love to have a beer).

Lost in translation. I love it.


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