Bathroom crisis teaches us about culture
KATHMANDU – The language barrier is never as real as when you have about 15 minutes to launch out of the hotel to make the airport and your brand new 5-year-old son accidentally locks himself in the bathroom. Of course, it’s a deadbolt lock and there’s no knob on the outside, only the inside, where he’s panicking.
You shout through the door in English. He cries back in Nepalese. He does not understand a single word you are saying. These words include “lock, “turn,” and many other words also consisting of four letters.We called a bunch of the hotel staff to come help. They are, of course, Nepalese and we’re sure they’ll be able to explain things to him and calm him down.
They talk to him through the locked door. He cries and cannot answer.Not so long ago, he was crying and alone, abandoned in a stranger place. To us, this anguished crying sounds like that, and it makes us want to cancel our flight, go back to the orphanage and grab up armloads of kids just like him.
As he screams and cries, as they hammer and chisel on the mahogany door frame, and you talk and talk, you realize his cultural education, and yours, are incomplete.