We live where a Khmer village and a Great River village run into each other and have friends from both villages. In the Great River village, Cranky Grandma lives.
Cranky Grandma is somewhere around 80 years old, lives in a little shack at the end of her village, and walks all over collecting water bottles to make some money at the recycling plant. She jabbers away in a mix of Khmer and her native language with such an accent that we can hardly ever understand her and when we have someone to translate, we often blush at the things she says. I think age somehow weakens any filters previously held. One of her friends made the excuse that she has been too long without a husband but somehow I get the feeling she would be cranky anyway.
On Sabbath as we were leaving to hold our meeting in the other village, she came to our house with her friends and asked if she could cut some of our bamboo to take to build up her house with. Permission was happily given by Boaz, and she has been coming every morning to cut some down and take it back to her house 1/8 mi away.
Today as I was making my morning cup of jasmine tea, I noticed Cranky Grandma outside cutting bamboo and mentioned it to Lorena. When Lorena made herself breakfast, she made too much. Going to the door, she called Cranky Grandma in and offered her some. Cranky Grandma chattered away and refused the food but was generally social as she wandered all over the house, excluding our bedroom which I had locked due to previous incidents where she wandered in without telling us and we were not exactly presentable. Lorena felt bad that Grandma had to drag the bamboo all the way back by herself and volunteered us (without telling me) to put the bamboo on the moto and take it to her house.This does not sound like a problem until you realize the bamboo stalks are a good 20 feet long, our little dirt road is small and windy, and we have no good way of attaching it to the moto.
Once Lorena informs me of this, I give up the idea of breakfast and go get the moto. As I pull to the end of the drive, Lorena gets off and we start to brainstorm as to the best way to get these things on the moto without killing us, the moto, or the bamboo. Our neighbors come up and the man starts talking for a good ten minutes about us driving an hour away to see a sick friend of his. We tell him we do not know the area or the language well enough, but if he brings his friend in on Monday Boaz can see him during clinic hours. As soon as we close this discussion, the neighbor lady helps Lorena bring the bamboo over and tells her to sit on the moto with one piece of bamboo under each arm. As luck would have it, the ends presented to us to grab are the sharp cut ends and its all Lorena can do to not get cut and stay on the moto.
We start wobbling down the road to the cheers of the various children. I am not used to balancing Lorena and 40’ of bamboo so we made quite the sight as I dogged chickens, rocks, and potholes on the way to Grandma’s house. We had to stop several times to rest Lorena’s arms and readjust the bamboo. I got stabbed by the bamboo multiple times and ended up with one end whacking me the last quarter of the way to the house. We dropped the bamboo at the front of the house and Lorena put it on the previously accumulated pile while I managed to turn the moto around in the small space. Grandma was surprised we already had the bamboo there and thanked us and started jabbering away again. After listening politely, I quickly made the plea that I had not eaten yet and I needed to go cook. She laughed and we all went on our separate ways.