I have a domestic servant that speaks neither English or French. Things are... complicated. My sign language and general non verbal communication skills have improved tremendously. But there are still challenges...
I am developing a cunning mix of basic french, basic English, a drop or two of the local lingo as well as a smattering of Yoruba (yes Yoruba) to deal with the problem... Nothing quite compliments a rueful shake of the head like "o ga o"... Nothing passes the message across to suicidal motorcycle riders (yes...there are okadas in Kigali).. like WERE! ( mad man..or woman) unless of course you remember your employers expect you to behave with decorum, and you instead mutter it under your breath like a prayer... But I digress.
Anyway, in spite of my dangerous cunning and adaptability, I am still faced with daunting challenges... particularly with my all purpose domestic assistant..
Boiling water is fine...But how do you say that you like your food spicy and dangerous without too much oil. ...That shrimps, crabs, prawns and their ilk must be avoided at all costs... How do you explain the difference between salads and vegetable mishmash... that you do not need onions in your fruit salad...
How do you explain to him that you would send someone to the house at 11 o'clock to pick up something for you ( I got stuck after pointing to 11 on the wall clock)... That you would be out of town for a few days and you wont be sending someone to pick your car for servicing ... or your TV... or your fridge... or the entire bloody house for that matter...How do I tell him I don't expect him to sleep outside..."guarding the house"... when it is raining cats and bad things.. without insulting his professional pride?
Even worse, how does he tell you that he needs a raise, that he needs to visit his sick mom...or that Mr Johnson came and dropped an urgent message for you to give to Mr Jackson... In the first two instances I was helped by neighbourhood translators, I haven't experienced the third instance..perhaps Mr Johnson did come... and he did not know how to inform me..
Flummoxed in Kigali