As you can imagine, there are numerous times when I struggle with expressing something in Arabic. It's usually a question I have, directions on where to go, etc. Sometimes it can be downright entertaining thinking of ways to communicate using Arabic, English and making gestures with arms and hands.
The other day I needed to buy baby wipes (hey, it's dusty, they come in handy) but I had no clue how to say this in Arabic. So I just walked confidently into the store and said "fii" which means "is there" and then rubbed my hands together and said baby. They seemed a bit stumped at first, despite my use of Arabic, English and hand movement. I then said 'Fine', which in the ubiquitous brand of tissue. Akin to Kleenex in the US. Then, they got it. When I asked them how to ask for baby wipes, they just said 'Fine baby'. I wonder what would happen if I asked for Kleenex baby in the US?
Today, I went into a store to see if they had a chart with Arabic letters. I don't even remember how to say letter (if I ever learned it) and the words 'word' and 'sentence' were not going to get me far. So I asked if he had 'something like this' while making a square shape, followed by 'for children', followed by reciting the first part of the Arabic alphabet. And the guy immediately knew what I was talking about. He might have some next week, and maybe if I'm lucky, he'll just remember what I wanted to I won't have to go through the same miming/word game. Although I have to admit, this miming/word game is really fun. It's like playing charades with a couple of words thrown in here and there. The rule here is that if you are using words other than your native tongue, it doesn't count against you. The best part is I get to play this game every day!