Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The art of asking properly.

Recently, I had new neighbors move in next door.  An extremely nice multi-generational family, as most homes are in the Kingdom.  They graciously bring me delicious lu on Sunday and I have baked banana bread for them in return.  They enjoy the bread as much as I enjoy the lu, evidently, as Sio asked me for the recipe and then surprised me one day with a big piece of keke to try from her oven.  I should add that to call it bread in Tonga isn't well understood.  Bread here is only white bread from the local bakery.  Anything else in a loaf shape (whether made from banana, papaya or similar is cake/keke).

On a recent balmy night, I heard a whispering at my front door, 'Tevita, Tevita.'  It was the daughter from next door and after exchanging "malo e lelei" she broke out in rapid fire Tongan - and not just a sentence or two.  I was seriously trying to comprehend what I had done, said or needed to do.  She finally stopped for a breath and I admitted to her that I really hadn't understood anything she had said.  Without skipping a beat, she asked, "Do you have any lemons?"  I struggled to keep from actually guffawing and replacing a laugh with a smile, I said yes, gave her the fruit and life went on.

When replaying all this afterwards, I'm know what had transpired.  One doesn't just ask for something in this culture, it's like a form of prayer.  One gives apologies for the intrusion and a whole lot of supplication followed by abundant blessings and thank you/s to the party/parties involved.  Somewhere near the end of her request, I did hear Peace Corps, so I'm sure they were thanked for having me live next door.

I'll second that....thank you Peace Corps.

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