Monday, May 19, 2008

Toilet technology

"Around this time of year, it would be warm in Japan man! You lucky fellow, you will escape the Hyderabad summer", my friend envied me as I was about to leave for Japan!

Only god knows how much my friend cursed me for the supposed luck. But if he did, his curses sure worked! As I arrived at Tokyo airport, I was in for a cold and windy surprise. Literally! I had to take a bus to get to the city where my apartment is located. The ten minute wait with summer cotton clothes on a windy day was terrible. As if the cold is not enough, within minutes my bladder got full! I risked missing the usually punctual bus and ran for the washroom. It was a much needed relief, but a short-lived one. I managed to come back before the scheduled arrival time of the bus. The bus was late by about three minutes and I was back to square one. I felt like a pregnant lady ready give birth to a liquid infant! For the second time with in a span of ten minutes!

Narita airport is about half-an-hours drive from Tokyo. By the time, I unlocked my apartment door, I was so full that I could have put out a Californian forest fire twice! I got into the washroom for the much needed release. Engrossed in the happiness I first didn't notice it. But as I grew leaner and relieved, I noticed that there was a tap atop the flush tank, only there was no way to turn it on!

Now that I had served my sentence for committing the crime of not packing winter clothes, I started exploring. I slid my hands right under the tap to see if it has a motion sensor, but the tap didn't respond. I groped behind the tap feeling for a push button. Still nothing. "I guess the tap is just for a show. Japanese probably spend their lifetime making cars and ASIMOs that they just didn't have enough time for taps!", I thought. I reached for the flush, pulled it up (not push down) and voila! along with the flash the tap vomited copious water!

"Wow! What washes your hands can still wash of your liquid baby! Japs are cool", I thought. Little did I know then that I was barely scratching the surface of truth. The next morning, I covered the two minute walk to my office and I was full again.

"I never understood the biology. Why should my bladder hyper react to cold?", I thought as I started looking around the office building for the familiar match-stick man. "Its not that I will drown in my own urine if I don't pass a litre of it every two minutes! In fact how did so much water get into my body in the first place! Ah there he is" I spotted the match-stick man hanging from the ceiling and into the entrance under him.

After an eternal minute, I was relieved again. As I reached the wash basin, I started wondering if all the Japanese toilets had a tap over their flush tanks. So, went to the toilet door, and slowwwwly pushed it open and peeked in with curiosity. I saw no tap on the flush tank. In fact, there was no flush tank.

"Hah, it's not a Japanese thing after all, just the apartment guys, trying to impress".

I pulled the door to close it. Just as the door closed, I noticed that the toilet seat had an arm jutting out from its sides.

"What the...", I opened the door and found tiny buttons on the arms. I moved closed to observe them. They are electronic controls for the flush. Four small buttons to control the force of the water jet and four more to control the warmth. "Holy shit!", I thought. I felt as if I just got one on my jaw from Evander Holyfield and stammered out of the bathroom.

It is about a week now and I thought I got used to the best of toilet technologies. I realized that I was wrong yet again. The best just got better. Here is an article from The Economist.


Aish said...

The Economist article. I have read it :0)

Badhri said...

This article, I have *written*! :)