blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Smallest rooms

Between flights at Chicago O'Hare I had time to draft a blogpost about toilets I have known. Last week we had a couple of new "ultra high efficiency" ones from the Ottawa Envirocentre installed in our house in which the flush works by a suction - syphon mechanism, involving a reservoir of air and only 3 litres of water per flush. The contractor who fitted them told me my water bills would halve, now; that remains to be seen. However, what inspired this post wasn't the eco friendly toilets at home but the seat in the Ladies' at this airport. Swathed in a plastic bag, it was, as if straight from the packing box, but the point was to keep the seat clean. A list of instructions told me to wave my hand near the sensor, at which the seat rim appeared to swivel, exposing a presumably cleaner section for sitting on. On second thoughts, it was the plastic that swivelled, not the seat: that was an optical illusion. Now this is something I didn't experience in Tokyo, though the Japanese are hygiene conscious too, with their devices that don't only flush the bowl but flush you, too. Those had more comfortable seats than a plastic bag; they were gently warmed and padded. At the other extreme are the holes in the ground to squat above in Beijing, Hangzhou and central France (at the Viaduc de Millau pitstop). Some of the cafe toilets in Barcelona were rather olde worlde as well, with a chain to pull--how often do you see one of those, these days?--and so cramped that even turning round in one was a challenge, and I'm small. For most of the people walking past me in Chicago, the situation would have been impossible. The most memorable toilet of my travels, though, was the one I sat on in a 2 star hotel somewhere in France in 1993. That was in a much more spacious room, a bathroom with floor to ceiling sash windows on the first floor up, at the corner of the building from whence, while sitting on the Throne, I had a magnificent view of the main street below and all the shoppers.

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