A woman with the potential to make it big. It is not that she cannot: she simply will not.
The closest anyone has come to being an adopted daughter.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Memories of ammonia

I have always found urinals quite intriguing. Urinals are possibly the greatest levellers in the history of a particular gender: they have brought princes and paupers together, in adjacent stalls, releasing at various levels of intensity or force. They have also been life-saving for me. Given how unmindful I am, I have often found myself entering a public restroom on sheer instinct, only to be mortally afraid that I've overlooked a tell-tale LADIES sign outside. And then, these celestial creations in white china have given me some of the greatest moments of elation in my life.

They stench in all degrees and extents: I have been in one that smells remarkably similar to blue cheese, though I've never found out how. In the malls and multiplexes back home, they always come in groups of (n-1) urinals for grown-ups and one for children/midgets/dwarfs. However, for <=3, there is usually nothing for children. Here, it's almost always one for children, and the rest for grown-ups, even for n<=3. Somehow the desi split reminds me of Newton's catflap, but then, I'm known for such bizarre analogies.

I've never found out why people spit in urinals while being at it. And not only that, they also clear their throats prior to the spit. The sound is remarkably similar, from person to person, and from stall to stall: they always clear their throat with a long khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaak, and then spit with the ubiquitous thuh. It's always in that format, nothing else, with the thuh invariably finishing less than five seconds before he moves his hand to redo the fly.

If I ever sat down to make a list of things I normally associate with urinals, ১/ৎ-shaped hairlets would top the list, and mothballs shall come second. A distant fourth shall be Dr Lodh's pamphlets, but with a threatening increase in the number of shopping malls and multiplexes, the boring clean walls (Fame at South City Mall even has pink lights and TV screens on the gentlemen's toilets) kill the show.

However, at number three there shall be a surprising entry - used chewing gums. Exactly why people all around the world think that urinals are a convenient place to dump used chewing gums has perennially been a mystery to me: is there some sort of glee achieved in making a circular rubbery blob pass through a forceful projectile jet?

I've also seen bus tickets (of course), pencil stubs (from behind the ear of an enthusiastic architect?), chalk bits (possibly), bones (I'm serious), feathers (I wonder how), a marble (is there a championship?) and the undisputed winner - headphones. No, this isn't a lie. Small, iPod-sized headphones (the ones they sell with Rs 60 FM radios) in the row of public urinals next to Jatin Das Park, well-soaked and, in all likelihood, still usable.


PS: I have used a commode where all the stalls have been full, or where it was the only option. One of my favourite games (even at this age) was to start flushing midway and ferociously attempt to empty my bladder before the water is gurgled out. Unfortunately, I often lose the battle, wait for the cistern to refill, and then flush again.


PS 2: I was thinking of writing something today on Rupam Islam winning the national awards for the best male playback singer. Instead I ended up writing this. Unrelated stuff, I suppose.

Ever seen anything more masculine?