“European toilet paper is made from the same material that Americans use for roofing, which is why Europeans tend to remain standing throughout soccer matches.” Dave Barry
It was when I was prattling on and on about the 4000-rupees-per-roll Commonwealth Games toilet paper scam when my mum asked me this question.
“When we Indians consider wiping our nether regions with paper the most disgusting of personal hygiene habits, why are we providing toilet paper during these games?”
Ah, I thought. Now that’s what I call a 4000-rupees-per-toilet-paperroll question and deserves careful thought and an answer.
So, I first tried this answer for size.
“Mumsie dearest, that’s how many of the firangis ablute and part of treating athithis like devas is making sure that they get to clean their fundaments in whatsoever manner they wish to and never mind how disgusting that might be.”
But that argument did not wash (pun intended) because from the look of it, a significant percentage of the sports persons attending the games aren’t likely to be wipers. (As we all know, the world is divided into two kinds of people – washers and wipers.)
Naturally, I can’t whip out the exact figure because first of all, given the way things are going, there’s no telling who may pull out at the last minute. Which could well be the Brits and/or the Aussies, who all wipers be and put together, would constitute at least a fourth of the competitors. Second, you’ll be surprised who all prefer to wipe rather than wash. For example, I thought toilet paper must have been an invention of the West but was amazed to discover that it was actually invented by the Chinese. (So, thank God, no China – think of how many more crores would go down the drain…er, toilet.)
But only as late as the 6th century.
And before that?
Well, it was really whatever was at hand, if you get my drift. Many did as we Indians do, but others preferred to wipe, using the strangest of stuff including sand (ouch), snow (brrrr), fruit skins and seashells. (Apparently Gargantua, a character in one of Rabelais’ books, recommends “the neck of a goose that is well-downed”!) And according to one expert on the matter, the Greeks used stones. I know – the mind not only boggles but having boggled, shivers and quivers at the prospect of a poor, unsuspecting bottom being scoured with….well, never mind.
In fact, toilet paper as we now it today, made its debut in America only in 1857.
And before that? Who knows? Bison droppings? Albatross gut? Leftover pizza?
But to make up for lost time, today the average American household of 4 uses about 200 pounds of toilet paper a year. Which works out to roughly 2 trees per person per year.
(So, thank God, no Americans are attending and I hope we don’t ever have to host the Olympics. I mean, add up the Chinese, the Japanese and the European contingents and our toilet paper budget will be larger than our GDP. Phew.)
It was while I was trying to work out the methodology of using seashells (ground before use and if so, how fine?) when the penny dropped.
And I was filled and flooded with a new-found respect for the poor, beleaguered Kalmadi. The man was a genius and we have misunderstood him all along
You see, the real reason for the toilet paper was to conserve water.
It had to be.
And not because we want to save-the-planet and the rest of the ecological crap.
It’s because…well, two reasons, both blindingly brilliant.
The first is because we want to have enough water for leaking through the various roofs of the various auditoriums and stadiums and maybe even the ones that don’t have roofs. (And how would we do that? Ah, just leave it all to aapro Kalmadi.)
Did someone ask “why”?
You poor thing. But I understand that not everyone can understand such dazzling planning, so lemme explain.
Laser shows – yawn. Digitally enhanced fireworks – yawner. Pyrotechnics – yawnest. Flying acrobats – puhleez. Wot I mean to say is that as far as these games go, it’s all been there and not just done that but done to death So the pressure on Kalmadi was to come up with something that has been never done before.
And he did because what could be more never-ever-before than artistically and perpetually dripping roofs?
(For those who will have difficulty noticing the drippy-drips, there will be neon signs everywhere pointing to the spots. VIP seats will be positioned directly under these spots)
The second reason?
The standard method of winning a sport is by trying to play it better than your opponent. That’s more yawn-er than even those over-hyped opening ceremonies.
But has any body tried to win by having the sports events take place on wet, slippery surfaces?
(Even as we speak, Indian athletes are being given special training to play on these surfaces. And now you know why we are buying all that medical equipment at 6-7 times the cost.)
See? I told you, Kalmadi is…does anyone have any other word for “brilliant” or “genius” because I have used them all up.
Let the games begin….i for one can’t wait