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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I should be planning for my 2nd lesson tomorrow but

due to the overwhelming, unsurmountable, indefatigable, irrefusable requests, I will e-procrastinate for a few moments.

The first story takes place in the no-man's-land between Singapore and Malaysia, sometime around the 16th of December, in the Year of Our Lord 2009. For a few days in Singapore, I had been to some degree constipated, despite copious amounts of Indian, Malay, and Chinese food and beer, and despite my best efforts to....well, not be all plugged up.

Needless to say, I was a bit worried about the bus ride from Singapore to Melaka, having no idea how long it'd take or how many stops there'd be. I of course tried my darndest to relieve myself at 1) my hostel; 2) the subway station, and 3) the Singapore immigration office, all to no avail. With my visa stamped and ticket purchased, I had no choice but to board the next bus. I expected it to take about 3 hours - after all, it did have "Melaka" written on it - and was utterly terrified. Thankfully, it dropped us off at the Malaysia entry point after just 3 or 4 minutes, at which point my companion YoungHo and I got into the freakishly long line of people waiting for their entry visas.

After about 90 minutes of slowly inching forward, we got our visas, passed through customs, and went out to tbe bus terminal. By this point I was pretty ready to go (and I don't mean to Melaka). I started following the signs to the bathroom, which were taking me back in the direction I had come from, but this time on the outside of the building. I ducked in to some little alleys and wove my way around cars and trucks and finally found the bathrooms, guarded by some old lady who couldn't speak English. She put her hand out and I realized I had to pay a fee. Unfortunately, I hadn't changed any of my Singaporean currency into Malaysian Ringgit; fortunately, she accepted the smallest Singaporean coin I had and even gave me a change. Home free!

Or not. There were two stalls inside the bathroom. One was locked, though nobody was in it, and there was no way of going over or under. The other stall was open, but there was a man inside. (The toilets were squat toilets. Sometimes there's a flush mechanism, but more often than not, you just have to scoop some water in with a ladel, itself floating in a bucket of water. When the bucket runs low, you just fill it up from the spigot jutting out of the wall.) Said man was desperately trying to plug a hole in the wall where the spigot used to be. Water was flowing out at a respectable rate; and when he tried to jam a wrench with a cloth wrapped around it into the whole, the flow turned into a horizontal shower spray, soaking him from head to toe. He called in the woman to fix it, but she had the same bad luck. Conclusion: toilet unusable.

I gave the woman my saddest look and pointed to the ladies' room. I figured I'd never get away with it, since Malaysia's officially a Muslim country, but she ushered me in. Home free!

I lower my pants and arrange them and myself to avoid soiling. Unfortunately, due to factors such as hasty positioning and unpredictable, uncontrollable trajectories, not all of the evacuated material made it into its proper receptacle. That is to say, the floor and wall, and, worse, my shoes and calves, found themselves with a light coating of something less than pleasant. Nooooooo!

And what's the other thing that one must always worry about in a public bathroom? If you responded "Idahoan senators performing homosexual lewd conduct," well, that is something one should worry about, but wrong. If you responded "lack of toilet paper" then you are indeed right! Can't pull up the pants...can't go anywhere...what a dilemma!

In my one stroke of luck that day, I did have a few packs of tissues in my manbag.