Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dari Lessons

Many languages are spoken in Afghanistan. Dari, however, is the lingua franca of Kabul and is widely spoken at the University. Dari is actually Farsi, the language spoken in Iran; the difference, I've been told, is the same as the difference between British English and American English.

We all learn to say 'tashakur' (thank you) right away and 'salam' (hello), but when everyone is speaking another language and you don't understand a word, it is, to say the least, isolating.

So we have a native speaker that is holding three one hour classes a week and lessons started this week. (The University is picking up 50% of the cost.) Dari is supposed to be easy - we'll see.

Anyway, I can now say.

'Man yak ostad hastam. ' (I am a professor.)

'Emrose juma hast.' (Today is Friday.)

'Kabul yak keshwar na hast ; ein yak shaher hast.' (Kabul is not a country; it is a city.)

'And I can (and did) say: 'Derose yak moosh dar daftar-e man bud,' which means 'yesterday a mouse was in my office.'

And there was! He shuffled around for a while in my wastepaper basket. I thought it might be a scorpion ...they do have scorpions here, y'know. I imposed on a male (of course) colleague to help. He moved the basket and a mouse jumped out and hid behind the bookcase. A janitor arrived to move the bookcase; other men arrived to stand around.

Finally the tiniest mouse I've ever seen scooted out of the office into the corridor. Think large palmetto bug but with fur and a tail. I yelped and another teacher (classically) climbed onto her chair.

Here's how we have protected our offices from further incursion by 'moosh haa.' (mice)

I think if the moosh wants in the office, he'll simply chew through that paper. I didn't bring that up since the janitor was so tickled with his solution to the problem. Hopefully by the time I get back to work on Sunday, the critter will have grown up, had babies and died and I won't have anything to worry about except getting rid of a dead moosh.


  1. What? You didn't have a broom?

  2. I am very surprised with your improvement in Dari. just try to speak in your classes and your students will help you learn more.
    one more thing, We don't say "Kabul yak keshvar na hast" the right one is " Kabul yak keshvar NEEEST"

  3. Anything would be an 'improvement,' but thanks.
    The instructor is telling us that 'it is not' would be 'ein na hast' - thus 'Kabul is not' would be ' hast.' Is this a difference in pronunciation or local usage?
    Appreciate your input; I can use all the help I can get.
    The students (and the housekeeper) just laugh at this point when I try to say something in Dari!