Degrees of separation

So near, yet so far

So near, yet so far

Sitting in the airport at Milan, awaiting our connection to Athens while enjoying a good cappuccino (in an airport lounge!)

The newspapers here are all in Italian…so aside from being able to recognize a few names and getting whom (or is it who??) the news is about, can’t understand what exactly it is about.

This got me thinking though, of how sometimes you can be speaking the same language, without the hindrance of differing accents, but still not get what the other person is talking about

Over a decade ago… I had just moved to the US and been assigned a ‘business buddy’ (his name was BG) by my employer. His role was to help orient and acclimatize me to the company. I don’t think BG realized exactly what he was signing up for. I was Fresh-off-the-boat (A commonly used term to describe new immigrants), and didn’t have any guts to drive my promptly delivered rental Ford Taurus, out of the apartment complex. There was no public transportation in suburban Richmond, and FOB or not… You were going to have to fend for yourself from day one. BG had to give me a ride to work and even ended up giving me driving lessons on my rental car. I am ever grateful to him for that.

In any case, on a particularly hot summer day he and I were having a conversation in the parking lot of our office building.

BG: “Oh gosh, it must be like a 100 degrees out here”
Me: “Yeah! Ha ha ha” (thinking he’s just being VERY extreme to make a point)
BG: “So is it this hot in your hometown as well?”
Me: “Oh, Delhi has extreme temperatures. Summers are much hotter and the temperatures hit over 40 degrees. Winters are very cold but not as cold as here. The temperature goes down to like 4 degrees”
BG (with a quizzical expression on his face): “Oh”
Me (wondering why he wasn’t suitably impressed with the extremity of the heat): ” ”

It was only later that I realized.

He was talking Fahrenheit.

I was talking Celsius.

We were both speaking English.