I had my hair cut today. A fairly pedestrian activity, I suppose: washing the hair, snipping and clipping it, applying ridiculous amounts of mousse and blow drying the final product. I do all this in silence, of course, since once my hair’s washed it’s too wet for the hearing aids. The place that I go to regularly seems to understand this, though I haven’t really explained it.
But what fascinates me about this place is that it’s run by I think expat Iranians. They chatter and talk among themselves in Farsi. Watching the transition between talking in English with me, imperfectly, to smooth fluency in their own language, fascinates me. The rhythm and patterning suddenly become confident and smooth, the lips don’t struggle around foreign sounds.
I think of this because I also saw this when getting pedicure last weekend (my annual birthday pedicure, I hasten to add); only this time the place my mother likes to go is owned and run by a Vietnamese family. But the same thing happens there — talking and chattering among themselves, a small community within a community.
Body language always fascinates me. I see the same thing when I watch groups of people talking in English. A smoothness, back and forth, an easy comfortableness and familiarity. Shared jokes, shared activities, all forming a web around the group of people. Doesn’t matter that I can’t understand it, doesn’t matter the language, the pattern’s there for anyone to see.
When I watch at the deaf meets, with flying hands back and forth, I see the same patterns, the same body language of shared communication. But this time, this time. This time, I think, I could someday participate in that.