Monthly Archives: August 2011

Public Restrooms


This is insanely exaggerated, but it’s based on a true story.

I walked right by a public restroom in Henan, China. Before the obligatory restroom vulgarities, let’s give some leeway to the institution for the fact that in China, the people-to-space ratio is pretty darn high and there is no source of reliable municipal cash infusion. The public restroom was just another unlit stone unit with stalls.

It wasn’t that bad at first, my senses obfuscated by the alien features of this particular restroom; wall-less stalls, bizarre hand-washing contraption, etc. But then the recognizable sour pungent smell of pee hit me, and my elbow moved to protect feeble nostrils. My face looked like it was buffeted by a torrent of sand, mouth utterly clogged.

My will to pee eventually overcame my relatively premium public restroom standards.
I took a scared step into the single-roomed dungeon. And after that step, my enervated public restroom standards were rendered nonexistent. The smell, the pee-drenched stalls, the pee drenched sinks, the pee-drenched floors.

In Henan, China, everyone wears sandals or flip-flops or the equivalent in the summer for 1) it is economical 2) it is fashionable. So you must imagine my horror and disgust when my blue flip flops sunk into 2 millimeters of sticky opaque pee. Yep, the entire stone floor gleamed brightly like a skating rink, and I lacked the ability to skate.

I waded my flip flops to the closest stall, careful to dodge seepage in the shallow grooves.

Peeing into the stall itself was an extremely specialized skill that I feel is impossible to master. My elbow abandoned covering my face so I could unzip my pants. The stall contraption itself consisted of a tiny hole on the ground.

You see, the radius of the stream of my pee was larger than that of the hole in the ground I was supposed to pee into. I tried desperately to stabilize it, wobbling from the profound nausea. Nonetheless, the air-hung yellow rivulet splashed everywhere except the target, sending globules of warm ick to the linoleum wall, the pee-glossed ground and my flip-flopped foot.

You may think pee on my foot is insanely disgusting, but at the time, I was so paralyzed with shock that my heart sunk with vacant placidity.

I carefully sloshed over to the hand-rinser. A kid hydroplaned across the floor. I looked at him and winced.

The hand – rinser itself was a bit tall. I tiptoed up and washed my hands, all meanwhile the ground layer of pee slowly seeped upward from my big toe. Then slowly, my saturated heels went back to the ground, balancing the seepage out. The bit of yellow mucus that covered my big toe gradually flooded my entire foot.

But I didn’t care anymore. Another boy slid across the pee-ridden floor, splashing a bit onto my white T-shirt.

Then slowly and expressionlessly, I walked out of there.

Searching for real


I notice a pattern.

As we have all this complex technology, we try very hard to stimulate what is real: 3D effect, high res display, artificial cell, long distance chat, electronic book imitation tech., etc.

Our technology is getting us closer, now more realistic.
Or are we are getting further and further away from the real?