Wednesday, November 24, 2010

About Gullawas!

"Gullawa" means people with white skin and foreign origins. Gullawas are very wise people who know absolutely nothing about life. They have a lot to learn. They need to learn to eat, talk, take a bath, keep their sarongs from falling down, and walk through the house without falling through the floor. They are like giant toddlers, stalking through the land. They make amusing blunders all the time, but most of the time they seem blissfully unaware of them. One feels sorry for them, especially when they get that helpless, embarrassed look on their faces.

The gullawa takes up the line:
When you become a gullawa, simple duties turn into hair-raising adventures!

One time, I decided to practice splitting firewood. My host, Naw Lah, had already started, and she had her baby tied to her back. So I walked over and graciously offered to do it for her. It was soon apparent that I was the feeblest wood splitter ever seen in those parts, and I admitted defeat, and she hinted that I could go cook the rice. Now that posed a problem. Because before you cook rice, you must build a fire. So I went and sat down before the fire place. And when she came back a few moments later, I was still sitting there, looking helplessly toward the place where a fire should have been. (Have mercy! I didn't know where to find the fire lighter.) But Naw Lah soon had a kettle of rice simmering over a nice fire.

Spying a pumpkin, I offered to cook the main dish for her. For surely I could cut up a pumpkin! Not realizing that I might need her, Naw Lah left the kitchen. That turned out to be a good thing, because some unexpected difficulties loomed before me.

First of all, I couldn't find a cutting board. So I did the best I could, and took it to the bamboo porch. That is the place where you wash dishes and take a bath, while the pigs wallow beneath. Oh for a cutting board!

Second of all, the knife! It was too dull to be a knife, didn't work like a saw, and I didn't know how to use it like an ax. But I managed to divide the pumpkin into several pieces (don't ask me how), which were turning brown from the dirty porch poles. At least it would be boiled. Now for bite-sized pieces. I definitely wasn't taking for granted anymore the perfectly cut chunks, with smooth edges, in Naw Lah's curry that morning. Mine looked like they'd been chewed off by a rat or something. And they were falling through the large cracks between the poles. Presently Naw Lah came back, and I asked, with motions, for a cutting board, not really thinking that there was one. But there was!

From there on, things were downhill easy, and after washing off the dirt and sweat, my pumpkin pieces were soon sliding into a kettle of water to be cooked. The curry was delicious. But I don't blame you if you wouldn't eat it after hearing the story.

Anyway, if you want to get humble, become a gullawa. There is no quicker way to lose all your pride.

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