On Dangerous Bathrooms

All looked promising enough from my first glance at the space. The abundance of wood and glass in King Fern Cottage’s reception / dining area – giving the whole a warm, modern feel – augured well. Might my room here at the cottage in cool Nuwara Elija even come with something resembling a ‘proper’ bathroom, permitting temporary relief from the all-in-one arrangements so common throughout the Third World?
I have often thought toilet and bathroom amenities, if they can be called that, would sustain a chapter in a travel book in their own right. Most notable of all to begin with was what actually passed for bathrooms in the poorer countries of the world. A public block that I unwisely stepped into on a visit to Tunisia was so disgustingly filthy that it was a wonder I retained my stomach contents in the instants that it took me to do my business. Hole in the ground facilities, upon which it was necessary to squat, were common but easy enough to adapt to – provided one possessed the necessary leg power.
‘Incredible’ India added a stunning new dimension to the notion public toilet. Nor was it necessary to be in a slum area as such to witness locals letting it all out in full public view. Running along a notorious stretch of beach at Puri I had to dodge human and animal faecal matter virtually every step of the way. Who needs a public outlet when you can go by the seashore?
Despite the hilarious scene in Luis Buñuel’s The Phantom of Liberty depicting people, contrary to the habit in polite society, ‘going’ in company and eating in private in enclosed nooks, excretory functions are a confidential matter, to be done in a cubicle set aside for it. This was what I had been taught growing up in Australia.
True, for the first ten years of my life that ‘cubicle’ was a rickety shed in the back garden of our then home. But when we shifted into a place of our own we began enjoying the luxury of an indoor toilet. Adjacent, entered via the crucial separate doorway, was the bathroom, i.e., shower, tub and sink. That was the life! If ever a gremlin clogged the works and the toilet overflowed the bathroom would stay safe. Dry as a bone, as if guarded by a levee.
How curious to discover in later years that no such toilet / bathroom distinction existed in many parts of the world. Furthermore, that in some places it was necessary to wash with the aid of a bucket (the Philippines), or try to clean the entire body with the merest trickle of water from a pathetic apology of a faucet (Guatemala), or wipe oneself with old newspaper (Cuba), or ‘shower’ in a brackish stream and excrete as if one was on a camping trip lacking even the most basic installations (Guatemala again).
No other recourse but to cope, to adapt. When in Rome … and all that … Till I reached the point that I could proudly proclaim that the ways in the Third World no longer fazed. Sure it was inconvenient to take a shower and then have to wait anything from several minutes to an hour or more for everything in the vicinity to dry. But with forethought and timing I managed.
My en suite bathroom at King Fern came with the familiar setup. Why then did I grin like a Cheshire cat when I beheld it? Marvel of marvels, this shower featured a sliding door; it was completely enclosed. I would be able to luxuriate in a shower without drenching the tile floor or the nearby porcelain. What joy!
Strange then that after using the bathroom I noticed that the tile was slippery. Dangerously so. At least two or three times I almost lost my footing, just avoiding what almost certainly would have been hard hits. But rather than bite the wrists in a trembling fit and roar ‘Disappointed!’ at the top of the lungs, I held my peace, dropped to the haunches and identified the source: a leaking pipe beneath the sink. Hmm.
On one of the days of my stay in Nuwara EIija, aka Little England on account of the climate, the rain hardly let up. Everything outside looked as damp and slippery as my bathroom floor. Still, I bore up, taking careful baby steps whenever a call of nature sent me in that direction. So much for luxuriating!


About owenlindsayboyd

I am a follower of the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda - author of Autobiography of a Yogi. I begin and end each day with meditation, a spiritual base from which all else proceeds. I am a personal carer, writer and traveller, among other things, originally from just outside Melbourne in Australia. I lived in my hometown until 1984, obtaining a degree in Arts, with majors in sociology and communication studies, in 1980. I have spent a considerable amount of time since the late eighties living and working in a wide range of communities in many different parts of the world. I have lived and worked with homeless people, disabled people and refugees. As a writer, I am principally a novelist though I also write shorter pieces, both fiction and non-fiction and have published and self-published poetry, articles, short stories, memoirs and novels. In addition, I write screenplays and have made a number of low-budget film productions. In recent years I self-published a trilogy of novels dealing, principally, with the themes of healing and reconciliation. 'The Unintentional Healing of Soul' (Changeling / Trafford 2003) was followed by 'Proper Respect for a Wound' (Changeling / Trafford 2005) and 'Thanks Be to the World' (Changeling / Trafford 2009). 'Proper Respect for a Wound' was also published in e-book format by Jaffa Books, Brisbane, Australia in 2013. I self-published a two-book travel memoir, 'The Second of Three' and 'From a Caregiver's Point of View' early in 2014. It is distributed on smashwords. Later in 2014 I plan to publish a book of stories.
This entry was posted in Travel related pieces. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s