"Um. . . excuse me mam." (I hear my voice saying in Chinese). . . you see we were driving along and we had an emergency bathroom need. . . my son had to use the bathroom and we stopped but there isn't any toilet paper. . .and I'm wondering if you have any we could borrow. . . well. . . I mean not borrow . . . you know. . . have."
Her raspy but friendly voice replies, "You want to borrow toilet paper?"
"Well, no. . . I mean my son had to use the bathroom, it was kind of sudden and I ran him in here so he didn't go in his pants but there is no toilet paper. Do you have any toilet paper that we could use?" (awkward pause) "I mean not to borrow. . . you know we don't have any. . . and I'm sure you wouldn't want it back. . . (awkward look exchanged between us)
She yells into the men's bathroom something in another language (a dialect that is not Mandarin) something and then proceeds to walk into the men's bathroom. . . talking to someone (I'm hoping someone she knows). She stops a man dressed in a guard uniform - who is zipping up his pants on his way out of the bathroom and asks him in Mandarin if this foreigner can borrow some toilet paper. Does he have any?
His reply, " She wants to "borrow" toilet paper? No I don't have any." (I can't blame him.)
It becomes apparent that she does not know him. (more awkwardness - between them and for me).
My 4 year old son at this point understands what is going on in my conversation with this woman and her extended conversation with this guard.
I repeat, again in Chinese, that I don't want to borrow it but you know, he had to poop really suddenly and I barely got him into the bathroom in time. . .so I didn't grab any tissue before running in and there is no toilet paper in any of the bathroom stalls (or in the big roll at the front of the bathroom - where it is normally kept here). . . and we just need a little bit of toilet paper is there any chance you could "GIVE" me some toilet paper. . . can I "BUY" some.
Shoot! Why didn't I think of that word "GIVE and BUY" before.
Now, it is clear to both of them my need or my sons need I should say and just as it seems to register that I do not want to borrow toilet paper ( as in with the intent of giving it back to them) but I would like to BUY some toilet paper, my 4 year old (who has never been embarrassed in his life) uses the little bit of Chinese that he has to come out of the bathroom (naked from the waste down) and says in Chinese, "please. . . give me some?". Suddenly, everyone (including an additional man who has emerged from the bathroom) is scrambling to find some toilet paper for the poor, naked, foreign 4 year old who is using Chinese to communicate his need for some tp. We finally (and very gratefully and apologetically) get some toilet paper and get everything done as quickly as we can so that we can get back out to the car and head home! But my embarrassment is not quite done. All 3 of these adults are waiting for us outside the public bathroom to tell my little guy how smart he is and all of these other compliments. I was embarrassed initially, partly for myself, then for the poor guard caught off duty with out being zipped up yet, and then for my half naked 4 year old and then in this very strange moment outside the public bathroom, I felt so very thankful that I live in China. So very grateful for the friendliness and kindness of Chinese people that I don't even know. SO very thankful for all of them and for the culture and country that they represented. I know it sounds strange to have this kind of moment and in this kind of way, how a request for toilet paper or an emergency " poop" stop could lead to this but a "moment" is a "moment" and I had one. Apparently my son did too. . . the next words out of his mouth were, "That was NOT my favorite bathroom." and at that point I couldn't stop giggling.
As seen out my kitchen sun porch window. . . this year has been milder than other years. All that being said, I stopped filming when I heard a sizzling noise wizz by my ear a little too close for comfort! I know it seems crazy for those of you who hail from my home country but I've grown to love the excitement of this first and last night of the Chinese New Year. It's a little crazy but a LOT fun!
Happy Chinese New Year 2012! We had a super fun evening at a New Year's party with some friends and then headed home to our safe little abode. Tucked the kids in bed, did my last minute cleaning before the new year just in time to bring in the New Year with the fireworks display out my kitchen sun porch window. The only reason I stopped viewing the fireworks this year was because I had my camera out and was video taping when I heard a "sizzle" that was just a little too close for my comfort level. So, I closed the window and watched from a safer venue point in the house. This year was so much fun getting ready for Chinese New Year. There is NO ONE who knows how to bring in the "New Year" better than my Chinese friends!
Chinese New Year is quickly approaching and we are beginning to prepare for it like we prepare for Christmas. Certain foods should be eaten, certain things done prior to the celebration (hair cuts, new winter clothes, etc) This year the kids and I are learning how to "bao jiao zi" which means stuffing the dumplings. Dumplings are a traditional Chinese food eaten all throughout the year but are well known to be eaten on Chun Jie eve. The kids and I made 2 kinds with our Chinese friend/helper the other day and we ate half and are saving half to be eaten on CHU YI, the first night of Chun Jie. Josh will not be back from his trip to the states until the next day which is too bad. He'll miss the barrage of fireworks at midnight on CHU YI. You are supposed to eat jiao zi at midnight on that first night - so the kids and I are fully loaded with egg and chive dumplings and pork and carrot dumplings. We are still a little more than a week out from the start of this 15 day holiday/celebration but some of the fireworks have already begun. Stay posted, I will post some video of the crazy fireworks we see out our windows on Chu yi as well as other fun cultural things that we get to be apart of because we live in this amazing place.