Wednesday, March 24, 2010
parlez-vous francais? or My Epic Fail Turned Inspiration
Being a resident of such a diverse city like NYC, I am often stopped on the street by people of various ethnic backgrounds and nationalities who claim that I remind them of home. Where is home? As long as they are brown, it doesn't really matter. I am sized up by folks from Trinidad, South Africa...even southern India. It all depends on how I am wearing my hair that day (see photos)! Honestly, I am flattered when this happens to me. I like to think of myself as a world citizen so, if a bunch of different peeps think we are some kin...I AM ALL FOR IT!
I am sure you are asking yourself, "where is all this coming from?" Well, today I had another one of these moments. A couple approached me though they did not come out and say, "you're like home." Still, they scanned the drugstore we were in for a person that looked familiar, sized me up and then asked a sizable question in French; a french dialect that sounded West African and beautiful to me. I looked at the woman puzzled. "Do you speak French?" she said in her best English. "NO...well...un peu," I said in my twelve year old voice. "D'accord"...my little was obviously good enough for her to launch into asking me another very detailed question in French! But here's the funny part...I knew exactly what she was saying: "Do you know if they sell IMAN cosmetics here?" Unfortunately, I could not say anything comprehensible back to her. Instead,I started into the embarrassing pantomiming that New Yorkers tend to do when trying to direct an international guest towards the right direction. I almost panicked until her husband came over to me and asked in English, "Where can she get it?" with a big ole smile! I told him. They both thanked me and gave me the warmest smile...like we were family. I felt better and kind of fell in love with them for a second. I can be super sentimental at times. Still, I had failed to use the French that I have been studying and practicing off and on for the past couple of years. The VERY language that I hope to use in my research on women of the African Diaspora and how they communicate in beauty salons! HELLO...MCFLY!
Though I played the fool yet again, I learned three important lessons today:
1. I NEED TO PRACTICE MY FRENCH EVERYDAY OR I WILL TURN INTO A BABBLING IDIOT LIKE I DID TODAY AND ON MY LAST TRIP TO THE SOUTH OF FRANCE.
2. I SHOULD NOT ABANDON THE RESEARCH PROJECT THAT I HAVE BEEN WANTING TO DO ON DIASPORIC SUBJECTIVITIES AND THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY.
3. BE YE ALSO READY!
And that is how you learn from your failures folks! That is all. ;-)