Bulan Lapar

Okay, I know that’s not really how you say it.

My friend on Twitter, my kawan, @Arzai is Malaysian. She’s read Petals and Thorns, which gives me such a kick, that this lovely woman all the way in Malaysia has read my story. She kind of shakes her head at my enthusiasm and says that she’s certain many people in Malaysia have read it, that Malaysia, after all, is a very big place. But she’s the one I know about and I get all pleased thinking about it.

Last night she was teaching me Malay words and phrases on Twitter. I asked her for full moon (bulan penuh), since I knew this would be my morning post. I then asked if Hunger Moon would be bulan lapar, since she’d already taught me that “lapar” is hungry. She didn’t think that would be right. Then she came back and asked what “Hunger Moon” means.

I had to explain that it’s not really English, either. That the full moon names are English translations of Native American concepts. In this case, the moon itself isn’t hungry, but that this is the moon that’s full during the time of hunger. It’s still deep winter here, I told her, and though spring is coming, it will be a while before the plants grow again. This is the time when stores grown thin.

She said she’d learned something and I realized what a cultural difference that is. Even though our replete grocery stores keep us fed year-around now, we still have those underlying concepts, from our frontier ancestors and native neighbors, that winter is a time of privation. Something those in the tropics don’t experience in the same way.

So, here’s to the Hunger Moon, that rises over the mountains in Santa Fe and the beaches in Malaysia.

And to the ways we connect, great and small, across our little world.

7 Replies to “Bulan Lapar”

  1. I follow Arzai on Twitter, too–she's great! I love how Twitter can give us glimpses into places we've never been.

  2. Lovely post and it was such fun to watch your conversation last night. I've said it before but I do love Twitter for giving me so many new and wonderful people in my life. 🙂

  3. Oo! How lovely – I'll have to follow Arzai, too. Language lessons are always fun. So are foreign concept lessons. I think they broaden a personal world and bring the larger one in just a bit closer.

  4. Me, too, Linda!

    That's one of the best things about Twitter, Kristina, "eavesdropping" on interesting conversations.

    You'll love her, Marcella. I think you're right on with that.

  5. I do believe I would be as pleased as you are, Jeffe! It just seems like such a wild thing to imagine that someone in a country so far away has read your book. I would be downright giddy, LOL.

    And I love learning phrases in other languages. I've been lucky to have quite a lot of international ties with people who are glad to teach me how to swear in their language, or to at least know how to address them 🙂

  6. Great post Jeffe, and what a great friend to have. Never thought about it quite that way. Why would someone from the tropics understand the deep cultural significance of Winter or the profound change of seasons? Even we don't conciously think about it, it's just embedded in the way we feel. You know: Harvest Moon, Hunter's Moon, Snowblowers Moon.

  7. It is kind of wild, Danica. And we'll have to ask @Arzai for some curse words.

    Thanks, Bart! You're right, that it's embedded. Many an elder has cursed the Snowblowers Moon!

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