Thursday, October 18, 2007

And Yet, No Shame!

Huff, huff, eyes averted, fingers on nose, a bleary-eyed glance through bi-focals towards left, without actually turning my head. Oh, thank be to ye, God! The ugly mass (mentioned in this post on this blog) has disappeared. But the staircase to my office still stinks. People use it as a toilet at night. No shame! A puddle of urine gives off a distinctly hydrogen-sulphide smell. I know, I was a chemistry student and my laboratory used to stink similarly.

A heritage structure such as the Gateway of India is misused thusly. I have seen it with my own bi-focal-ed eyes. There are toilets everywhere, even a hideous structure near the Gateway of India. But still people prefer to sit under the grand arch through which King George the Sixth once passed. Their claim to immortality.

We had this game we played when we were sub-editors of a magazine, early in our career. After the issue had gone to press, there being not much work, we subs had to relate our worst toilet-going nightmares. Mine was an excruciating journey in one of Kerala's Fast Passenger Buses running between Ernakulam and Kottayam, at a time when it was raining rather badly. It’s some sixty kilometers to Kottayam and I was traveling with luggage, and suddenly I had this urgent call of nature, and it didn't seem to subside whatever ways I tried. Fast Passenger Buses don’t stop at the intermediate bus stations, and if I get down, and if the bus leaves without me, my luggage would also go with it.

So I held on, and held on, and held on, at each passing milestone, painfully counting the numbers written on it. When it came to Kottayam bus station, I ran frantically all the way to the enquiry, and from there, wildly flung myself at the crowd, and when I entered the foul-smelling, cobweb-hanging, puke-inducing urinal, it was like heaven. Aaaaaaaah!

Women colleagues related how they rang door bells and usually a woman - understanding as they are of such dilemmas - allowed them to enter their homes and use their toilets. They related how they had to crouch over dirty, unwashed toilet seats, only to find there was no water, et al. Ha… ha… ha…. My advice: check the water supply first!

Once, when I had to, had to, go, I went to the nearest five-star hotel and did it in comfort and luxury. Nobody stopped me, not even the liveried attendant wearing spotless white gloves. That’s the reason why I am reasonably formally dressed on most days except weekends. You don’t know where you are going to land up and want to use the toilet! Do you?

What are your stories? Leave a comment your highnesses!

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