Lately, I've been trying things in Indonesian. That means attending church, showing up at Young Single Adult activities, and chatting with taxi drivers. My Bahasa Indonesia is passable, meaning that I can (mostly) follow the gist of a conversation if a)it's one-on-one, b) it's face-to-face, and c) the person speaks loudly and slowly. My vocabulary's also pretty limited right now, which means I, and whoever I'm talking to (not to whomever I'm talking, please note) have to do some guessing.
So the other night I was trying to explain my view on Indonesian desserts to Brother Sam, one of my favorite Church members here. Indonesian food is fantastic, but I am always disappointed with the post-meal offerings; they're not chocolate, they're not very sweet, and they're always vaguely mushy or slimy. I was trying to tell Brother Sam about this, but I didn't know the word "texture." The discussion that followed went something like this:
Hannah: I like the taste of Indonesian desserts, but I don't like the....(pauses to ponder)
Brother Sam: The...?
Hannah: ...the "texture"? Do you know the word "texture"?
Brother Sam: "Texture"?
Hannah: Okay, how to explain...um, like, if I touch something, it feels...(demonstrates touching)
Brother Sam: You stroke your food?
Hannah: No, no, like, for anything. Everything has a "texture." Like, if I touch this desk, it feels...(pats the desk for a minute, then realizes she doesn't know the word for "smooth." Or "rough." Or any texture-related words. Sighs in despair.)
Brother Sam: (stares blankly)
Hannah: (thinking of things with interesting textures) Okay, I'll try again. It's the feeling of something. Like a snake...or like fur...or like oil.
Brother Sam: You think Indonesian desserts taste like snakes?
Hannah: (Searches for a way to explain "mushy." Decides it isn't worth it.)
Brother Sam: (Pulls out an electronic dictionary, looks up "mushy.") Oh, "like pudding"!
Hannah: Yes, like pudding! (Thinks, "I can't believe I just went through all that for the translation "like pudding." Screw circumlocution; I'm buying an electronic dictionary.")