What is Your Name

While in Myanmar, I have been trying to pick up little bits and pieces of the language. I have learned how to say “Mingalaba,” which is Hello and “Chei-zu tin-bar-te” which is Thank you. Most folks smile when I say these simple words, maybe because of my accent or maybe because they are not expecting it. Either way, I get such a delight out of the interactions.

Yesterday, while riding in a taxi, our taxi driver made a comment in English. He spoke well enough for us to have a lovely conversation about music. Then I shared that I was trying to learn his language and wondered how to say “what is your name?”

He responded “Sim ma mah.”

I repeated, “sim ma ma.”

He said, “No, Sim, ma mah.”

I tried again but he was not satisfied and spoke slower, really emphasizing each sound. I listened intently and repeated exactly how I had heard. This time he was pleased, smiled and said: “yes, that is correct.”

I sat back in my seat for a few moments and then leaned forward, tapping his shoulder and said with confidence, “Sim ma mah?”

He paused, glanced back at me and in a quandary said, “Yes, that is my name.”

“Ah!” I exclaimed, “I asked you how do you say, ‘what is your name?’ And, you actually told me your name.”

Everyone in the car burst out laughing as we all realized the misunderstanding. He then proceeded to tell me how to say “what is your name?” but for the life of me, I can not remember how to say it. I’ll never forget how to say his name though.

The Great Wall of…Toilets

IMG_9614How about a little potty talk? I know, I know, I digress, but it’s always been a fascinating subject in my house hold.

It was the 70’s and my home a was pretty typical American home, except for the fact that my dad was the preacher man which meant there were some rules that we had to live by that my other friends didn’t. My parents didn’t talk dirty or swear, except for the occasional “damn it” when my mom would get mad at us kids which always left us a bit shell shocked. Alcohol was a no no, and so was playing cards, dancing and listening to rock music. Although, we did play cards but rock music and dancing, no no. So, I’d go to the neighbors to get my Michael Jackson or Shawn Cassidy fix and dancing, well you remember the movie Dirty Dancing right? Let’s just say, I was Jennifer Grey for Halloween one year. I was also Kimberly from Different Strokes one year but that’s a whole other story.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is I feel like life was pretty typical except we had certain rules about humor infiltrating our home that was sexual or dirty. IMG_9613However, potty humor was fair game. And, those of us who could toot the most, the loudest or the smelliest were held in high regard.  Some of us would hide behind a holier than thou disgust but then would occasionally sneak one out, following up with the who farted question. Others were proud of their shameless farting and burping, expressing a sort of pride in their admittance of guilt. My mom’s side of the family, the Urcavich’s, would often say with condemnation that potty humor was a Price thing, meaning my dad’s side of the family. But to their dismay, my dad’s side of the family would grin from ear to ear and take the put down as a true complement. But I’ll tell you what, it was also an Urcavich thing and no matter what that side of the family says, I know, I’ve been in the room when one of my uncles lets one ripe filling the room with a blueish grey smog. The giggles are relentless, actually the giggles that follow are almost worse than the smell.

One time my adult cousin, who happens to be a “Price, gave our son a gift for his 10th birthday. It was small Casio piano. You know the kind that you can record a song or sound and it will add it to the repertoire? Well, he started to show him all of the cool sounds you could make with the little machine and creativity started to flow, the music was actually sounding pretty cool! Then without notice my cousin stopped and said to my son and all of his friends, “watch this!” As soon as he said it, I knew what was coming. He proceeded to belch into the recorder. Not just any belch but like a 30 second, mother of all mothers. The look on all of the kids faces was sheer excitement at the new-found opportunity and they all began to frantically lung at the machine, belching as loud as they could. It was hilarious and a bit embarrassing, seeing as we were in a Thai restaurant. Seriously, though that’s just one story of like eight hundred.

And, so it’s just sort of in my blood. I would fall into the more passive Urcavich category but I’m not ashamed of my Price roots. Personally, I tend to take the whole bodily function thing beyond the humorous to a scientific level. I’m fascinated by the studying gut function and what foods to eat to maintain a healthy movements. And, I love the word poop. Just writing it makes me giggle inside, so I’m super excited that Facebook added a poop emoticon. My family knows this about me and I’m often given books about pooping as gifts. Books like “What’s your poo telling you?” or “Perry Poops” and “Terry Toots.” *Disclaimer: I have enough books now. 🙂

Then there is my brother who is a business man by all means but one of his business does just happen to be a port-o-potty company. It’s called Captain Commodes, which is hilarious because my brother is a sailor. I remember when he first bought the company. That winter we were all sitting around the Christmas table and he pulled out all of these catalogs with all sorts of paraphernalia to do with the pumper industry. Who knew it was called the pumper industry. In that glorious moment, we were given a full-scale scope into the world of portable toilets. Then the movie Kenny came out and nailed it! If you’ve never seen Kenny, rent it tonight, you won’t be sorry.

So, it’s no wonder that as we traveled throughout SE Asia that I was compelled to take photo’s of the toilet situation. I actually started to think about it well before we left the States. I knew that the toilet situation would be different and I was excited to learn about how other parts of the world used the facilities. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about the idea of squatting down as my knees are shot and I don’t have the strongest legs. However, it was the infrastructural limitations to processing toilet paper that really caught me off guard. Most toilets did not come with toilet paper, nor anywhere to put the paper once used. They did all have a portable hose or a water bucket and scoop, which acted sort of like a hand-held bidet. However, my quandary about how to dry off after I had squirted the water all over myself and the walls around me, was often the biggest dilemma. None the less, some of our hosts were gracious enough to allow me to ask directly but discretely how they managed through the process.  They would smile with embarrassment as they answered but behind their coy smile I could see a fellow “potty humor” comrade.

In the end, I embraced the system, whether it was the full squatter, the partial squatter or the throne. I found great comfort in the cleanliness that the hose offered as compared to the paper and really appreciated the physical strength that came from the natural workouts of squatting. Plus, I became aware of how much paper we waist in Western countries that could be eliminated if we all had the little hoses hooked up. So, if ever we are in a position of owning a home again, you can be assured that when you come to my house we’ll still have a thrown for you to sit upon but you might be wondering where the paper is. Which, in that case, will allow for a hearty conversation about poop and the environment and exploring new lands. And, who wouldn’t want to talk about that?!

Anyway, without further ado… Here is my Great Wall of… Toilets.

A huge thanks to all of our host who allowed us to first of all, use their toilets and secondly, to photography them. This will forever be a treasured part of our folk life family expedition memory.