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.

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4 Responses to patterns

  1. Deb Ann says:

    I love the way you write. Your writing is so beautiful.
    I am sure that you will participate in that…with waving/flying hands back and forth. =)
    When I visited my college boyfriend’s family (they’re from Spain and lived in New York City), their body language and gestures really fascinate me and their culture is different but very interesting! When they say a word like beautiful, they say it and use the gesture to impress how much they think that you are beautiful. At first, I was scared, but then I thought it was so cool.

  2. LaRonda says:


    I have never thought of this. I live in a neighborhood of Indian and Asian people. Now that you mention it, i do see how smoothly they talk to one another in their own language as opposed to how haltingly they speak to the hearing/English speaking neighbors. As for talk with me, all those gestures and body language gets put to good use. We pick up cues from one another that way. Ironically, we often communicate through our children who are bi-lingual. The children do not carry the heavier, thick accents that their parents do and I am able to lip-read them better than their parents. My son will orally interpret things I miss on the lips of the other children when needed, and on occasion, he will sign, though he does not know signs well enough to use them all the time. THAT is changing though as we are teaching him ASL now.

    Communication in all its forms is amazing!

    ~ LaRonda

  3. Deb Ann says:

    Yea, I like that, LaRonda. Communication in all its forms is sure a very amazing tool for everybody in the entire world. =)
    BEG, I’m so glad that you brought it up! It’s a good topic!

  4. ben vess says:


    Reminds me so much of home (New York). It would be those random moments when I’m in the subway and I see people reading–I’d look over and realize, “Oh shit, it’s in arabic…hebrew…French…and so forth.” Once in a while they’ll be sitting with children and when the child misbehaves..

    They’d say something and nobody would even bother looking their way.

    After living in the city for a while, one gets accustomed. Once, when I was with a friend–we had to catch a train. There were warning posters everywhere saying the train we needed was out of service and that we should take another train in another platform. I grabbed my friend and said come come, let’s go. My friend was looking at me oddly..

    It didn’t occur to me that the warning signs were in spanish. lol.

    Languages and its users always have fascinated me. Just amazing.

    Der Sankt