Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lullabies and love songs

I love the way people sing or hum when they are happy.

Several years ago, Chris and I took a cruise up the Sea of Cortez in Baja Mexico. We took an excursion from the boat to ride burros in the desert with a lovely Mexican man named Alejo. Each week, he and his family would bring the burros to the ship's side and then take a tour through the valley past villages, cacti and palms. He was in the rear of our group, and he sang the sweetest Spanish love songs as we rode out of the desert back toward the sea. I don't know how many times I turned to smile at him or just smiled to myself as we rode that day.

Our nephew (now 18 and about to graduate high school... wow) used to hum to himself when he was just a little guy. He was always so happy and would just hum away in contentment when he was playing or sitting or coloring. There are some memories and sounds which you lock away to cherish forever, and his sweet humming is one of mine.

Lately, I notice it even more, that there is music in the air at home. Our gardener sings on the roof or mopping the stairs. Our driver sings when he washes the car. Mrs. Mokta is often signing or humming over the dishwater in the kitchen. And they ALL sing to sweet little Miss Avocet during the day. Sometimes they see me, but many times they don't. I can do nothing but smile to hear it - them singing and her cooing back. It is nice to be in a happy home.

Chris heard a Bangla song he liked the other week when he was out with Ceiba. He wrote the name down from the clerk and asked our driver to buy the CD. And a week later, I picked up 4 local CDs. Now we have a nice bangla mix to play on our ipods or in the car. Everyone in the house loves the music. They all gave the "we're happy you love Bangla things" smile when they first heard us play them at home. Sometimes foreigners don't embrace local food/music/dress when they live here. The moments we do, it's especially meaningful to locals. They like that we like it here.

One particular song kept repeating the word "bhalo". I knew this word "bhalo", which means good. It's one of the about 20 Bangla words in my vocabulary. I turned to our driver, Bijoy, the other day and said "bhalo bhashi?". He looked at me a bit wide eyed, but said nothing. Hardly a second passed from my first word when I pointed to the radio and said "what does it mean? I know bhalo is good, so does bhalo bhashi mean very good?". He said it meant "I love you". Whoops!!! I started laughing and turned red. I profusely apologized. I said that he probably got a good laugh out of it and that I hoped he wouldn't tell his driver friends this funny story about my sounding crazy with this unknown outburst. Luckily, he has been with our family long enough to know I was just working on my grammar and not propositioning him. Eeek, maybe I should carry my guidebook along in the car or just start my questions a different way. I laughed for a few blocks.

I think I'll stick to listening to sweet songs and not embarrass myself talking about love songs to our driver.


  1. Love this blog post!!! We love the local music too, and you're right --- it isn't often heard in the homes or cars of foreigners!

  2. i was listening to a bangla music, i think by habib when a colleague called me in my mobile, and she heard the background music and was surprised to know that im listening to bangla songs...i'm really going to embrace the culture soon...