This is soooo silly.
Most Egyptian public toilets are an exercise in touch minimisation. Can you get in and out without any body part touching anything in there and without your sense of smell being overwhelmed by the fumes. They are proof positive that levitation is a complete impossibility; because there could be no greater incentive to get the soles of your shoes off the ground than some Egyptian toilets.
Public toilets always seem to have a guardian, but while in some countries the toilet-guard will keep their charge clean, in Egypt their function is to collect two pounds in return for a couple of squares of toilet paper with which to dry your hands. The kids with the advantage of years of avoiding the school toilets, and a serious disinclination towards to required contortions, have managed to hold their water remarkably well over the last week.
Hotel toilets are obviously designed to cater to namby-pamby tourists and completely different. The toilets in our hotels in Cairo and Aswan were clean and didn’t smell. Though they’ve were not, it has to be said, really comparable to the pristine white toilet experience you’d find in Europe or Australia.
And then we come to the other end of the scale in our current hotel in Luxor. We got upgraded to a superior room in Luxor and it comes with toilet facilities like something out of a warped science fiction movie. Now those of you who know me well will recognise that I don’t hide my love of gadgets and technology. But there’s a place for technology, and it aint on the toilet.
Our toilet, which is labelled ‘intelligent’ has a control panel with a screen and 21 buttons. Flushing it involves turning it on and then finding a button combination to make it go; and it doesn’t even accept toilet paper! We spent the first half hour in the room just trying to work out how to make the toilet go. It’s taken us two days to negotiate a truce with the similarly over-tech’d shower cubical.
The toilet also comes with a list of twelve safety warnings. Number 2 reads: “In order to avoid electric shock do not use in a place where it is prone to splashing.” This could well define the words ‘sitting gingerly’
But we moved from the ridiculous to the sublime this morning when the real terror of a toilet reliant on technology kicked in – we had a power cut. And with the power out, you could start to see some advantages of a hole cut in the floor.