“Use the bum gun.” I said as I poured the coconut milk into my wak. It screamed and hissed in the scalding temperature.
“The bum gun, no one uses paper in Cambodia.” I tossed in the copped lemon grass, and a strong citrus smell jumped out at me.
“The nozzle for washing dishes? You don’t have toilet paper?”
My mind flashed back to when I was little, washing dishes with my grandmother, taking the little gun and spraying the high power gusts at the food stuck on plates. That wasn’t how it worked here. “Please don’t wash any of my dishes with the bum gun, it’s attached the toilet for a reason.”
“Yea, ok, but um, don’t you have any paper?”
“Nope, sorry. I haven’t bought any paper in 6 months.” I took a sip. It needed soy sauce, everything needs soy sauce.
“What, but 200 people have lived here!”
“Yep” I glanced at my food then to her. Delicious vegetarian curry amok, ready to eat, to cover rice or drip bread into. I didn’t want to share, the deliciousness should be all mine.
She glared at me, her eyes fixed in stone. Culture shock roared through her mind, she trembled. Should she be angry at me? I gave her a free room, I guided her through the city, I translated for her, I befriended her but I didn’t have any toilet paper and had no intention of buying any.”
“Look,” I said “in Cambodia the water is warm and paper is in short supply, people have been using water wand water only for thousands of years. Just try it.”
“Eh! That’s so dirty!”
“Blasting yourself with water is a lot cleaner than using your hand and some paper. Just think about it.” I readied my bowl, all mine.
Her mind pick away at the bedrock of her culture. She had never thought about it before. Using toilet paper isn’t an innate feature of mankind, not something basic for human survival, not eating food or drinking water, but a cultural solution that not everyone in the world agreed to.
“You really just use water?”
“Yes, every day, now go and try”
“But, how do you make it dry?”
“We let it dry naturally, now go and try” I waved my hand at her, shooing her away.
She walked out of the room, off to let her new ideas ferment as my sister walked in.
“Mmm curry!” she said as she grabbed my bowl.