Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Favorite Kreyol Word

Degaje (day-gah-jay) verb.  To make due with what you have, to jerry rig something, to fix using available materials*

I grew up in a home with two masterful Degaje-ers.  Every home improvement project my dad ever did was one part new materials and know-how, two parts re-used spare parts and guessing.  There were lots of close calls, a few trips to the ER, and some sketchy electrical work.  My mom degajes her way through every single recipe.  A recipe calls for balsamic vinegar?  Soy sauce looks a lot like balsamic, right?  She has been known to mash up several recipes for one end product when she was missing ingredients from one recipe.  Like the Tiramasu Tragedy of 2011.

I am a product of this household, and I am also a pro at the degaje.  Do you like the new cabinet shelf I just constructed out of spare wood I bought from The Crazies' shop?  I got the idea for this gem from the locker shelves my dad constructed for me in 7th grade.  Golden.

Some other instances of degaje...
 railing turned ladder

Scraps turned into a super secret GNO clubhouse

 Steel drums turned into beautiful art

Degaje stems from not having a lot of available resources, but still needing to get a job done.  Most of the degaje I see is kind of messy, but still a pretty good practice of ingenuity.  If ingenuity is the mother of invention, surely degaje is it's sister.

* The definition in my own words

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