I want us to join hands as a nation and get a hold of the architect who has convinced hotel owners in Uganda that it makes sense to have the shower and toilet constructed this way. Once we have him or her in our grasp we will take a decision on the next course of action – but it should be decisive.
This man or woman is out there, and judging from the age of most of these hotels, should be about fifty or sixty years old now. This person is also influential and must be considered warped in perspective, and dangerous to the general comfort of all humans.
This is a matter of hygiene, aesthetics, self-esteem and basic decency.
No other country in the world has provided for this phenomenon within brick, cement and plaster. The juxtaposition of toilet and shower made sense in the outdoors, back when one only had to identify an empty space within which to place a bucket and water.
Now, in 2014: it is stupid.
You cannot – must not – place a shower head right above a toilet seat.
No, wait – let’s start with the toilet itself.
First of all, squat toilets should not be provided for in any place where we are paying any amount of money for accommodations that is more than the price of five roadside chapatis. There can be no negotiation around this point.
Secondly, when the right toilet fixture is provided for, it must not be elevated above floor level. We, the paying customers, housekeeping staff or even casual observers to whom this is all quite entertaining, do not agree with this set-up. I have asked many people and we are of one voice.
I repeat: the toilet must not be elevated. There is no point in doing this. Nobody likes to sit on a toilet and balance off it using their haunches. We want to use the toilet with our feet placed firmly on the ground – not for traction to aid the process, even though that may sometimes be necessary, but because the distraction of one’s feet dangling a couple of metres off the ground is distressing enough to delay the biological process that brings us to these places. That’s why there has been no mention anywhere in history of human beings climbing trees as part of their toilet!
This also applies to the pit latrines that require the user to climb up a flight of stairs<— but that’s another rant altogether, aiming at the abolition of pit latrines altogether.
Third, the architect responsible for our hotel discomforts neglected to level the floors in such a manner that the water flow from the shower goes to the corner with drainage. It is hard to understand why this is not obvious.
The toilet-shower is like a pot-hole after it has rained, complete with bits of grit and gravel. This is an upcountry hotel, so even walking from the car to the reception gets you enough dirt underfoot to muddy the toilet-shower within two steps inside – which is normally the breadth of the room itself.
And of course, the hotel management will not provide bathroom slippers. When they do, the damn things are made of hard rubber and have bits cut out of them to discourage theft, but which have your feet making contact with the floor.
Surely, you’d think, the architect could have made the shower floor recess a little below the floor of the rest of the room? No chance!
Of course we have to be thankful that the tilt of the floor is not in the direction of the bedroom chamber – because that sometimes happens, too!
Of course there are no bath mats! What are we talking about here? Focus!
Yes – I have slept in a room where after taking a bath-shower I dried myself off and gave the floor a few minutes to drain of all water before crossing back to the bedroom part of the room. I emerged to find that the water was actually draining INTO the bedroom part instead of the drainage hole!
My enraged bellowing got hotel staff into the room well enough, but they did not understand the problem because “but the bed is not wet” and therefore I could still use it to sleep on.
Fourth, the positioning of that shower head over the toilet. It’s the architect to blame, hands down.
Why? Seriously, biki ebyo?
This has to STOP! It is 2014! We cannot be bathing indoors as if it is 500BC outdoors!!!!!
We have all been in that position: In the middle of toilet activity, feet dangling off the ground and all concentration placed on doing the deed against all odds. All of a sudden, totally unexpected, the shower above you releases a few drops of icy cold water right onto your nape!
Because the damn plumbing fixtures are never tight! And the shower units themselves never work properly. <—this is also another rant altogether, in which we will hope for the execution of all plumbers and for the bill to be directed to their parents.
When you are ready to actually take your shower, many times you discover that because of the positioning, the shower can only be bad by straddling the toilet seat.
And this is ANOTHER reason for the damn toilet NOT to be constructed on an elevated height.
So you’re forced to use the basin – provided for this very reason – to ‘fetch’ water and then ensconce yourself in the corner next to the toilet. The use of the basin leads to an inevitable amount of splashing, unless one is of such a small size that the basin can be turned into a bath.
Being of such a small size is essential for one to comfortably make use of these upcountry toilet-showers – and few of us are actually that size. My children, for instance, tell me that they have no problem using the shower because they place the basin next to the toilet, stand inside of it, and then use the shower overhead – but that’s because they are standing at one end of the basin, not in its centre. I CANNOT fit there. I CAN stand inside a basin with both feet, but once I have done that all movement has ended.
And the reason I can only use one corner of the toilet-shower room is another installation of our architects that I cannot justify and yet is somewhat necessary – the wash basin a.k.a. sink.
The sink that is affixed to the wall at an angle that ensures water pours off its sides onto the floor. The sink with a tap that is set so close to the wall that you can only wash a few fingertips at a time, and yet has such strong water pressure that it shoots out and wets your trouser front the moment you place finger on it.
It is always positioned in such a way that you have suck in your stomach to go in between it and the toilet to get to that corner of the toilet-shower room from which you proceed to splatter everything with your ablutions.
That corner is also where the broken toilet paper holder is, and where the hotel housekeeping staff place the toilet paper roll after cleaning up.
You will only discover this at a critical hour of the morning. And no amount of complaining is logical because even if the toilet paper were placed on the cover of the non-functioning toilet cistern, it would have gotten wet while you showered.
And by the way, I have considered that maybe the shower head is positioned above the toilet because the toilet cistern doesn’t work, so your shower automatically flushes the loo but we should not allow this to continue!!!
We also should force all hotel owners to take a shower in their own bathroom-toilets early in the morning every day for a week. When they realise the discomfort involved in approaching that cubicle first thing in the morning after having used it the night before, the error of their construction will become clear. Then we should make them share the room with their plumbers so they understand what it’s like to have two people use the same toilet-shower for any single activity within any twelve-hour window of any given day.
That’s not punishment, it’s only a preamble. Punishment is if they are made to pay accommodation fees at hotel rates. Tusaba gavumenti etuyambe!