Learning Without Knowing

I found myself talking more and more Bahasa Indonesia without me realizing it. Today, I was having a conversation about drinks with one colleague and a listener was shocked to hear that I am speaking their language.

I was shocked as well. If he didn’t point it out, I wouldn’t have noticed. Really.

I remember one instance, as I was climbing the stairs on my way to my office space, I was halted by some questions that I needed to ask the receptionist. After getting the needed information I continued my ascent. And then I stopped again, looked back and asked if I have just spoken in Bahasa Indonesia. She said yes.

Seriously? I am amazed. How did my brain sneak up on me and pick things up unconsciously without asking permission?

The other day, I moved back to my room after a week of camping in another hotel room. Something needs to be fixed in the floor I am staying in and all the occupants (actually, it is just me and the other expat colleague) has to find a temporary home. When I got the go signal from the housekeeper that my room is ready, I transferred back my stuff immediately. I missed my room. My room suits me perfectly fine. Anyway, I digress. After hauling back my luggage I got a call from the expat colleague saying our room is not yet ready. He just talked to the guy who was fixing it. That it will probably take a few more days. What the heck?!

I was confused and not very happy. No one wants to be ping ponged around especially if I am lugging tons of stuff. I rang the housekeeper and asked once and for all if I can move in. He said yes. In a few minutes, the guy who the expat colleague quoted as telling him that things aren’t ready yet was confirming to me that indeed it is ready. So how come I was informed otherwise? He replied that probably he does not understand Bahasa Indonesia and misunderstood him. That can I please explain to him the real situation. And that conversation was again done in pure Bahasa Indonesia.

Hooray! I can just give myself a pat at the back.

I have been noticing recently as well that the staff around me who were using Bahasa Indonesia on a regular basis has been switching to their native dialect when I am around. Something that I cannot understand but can recognize from the accent. And it can only mean one thing, that they don’t want me to understand what they are talking about.

That they now respect my Bahasa Indonesia


Please don’t ask me to write anything using the said language. That’s a totally different story.



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