My New Year wish list, among other things, includes a small but significant boon. Dear God, please grant me winter-round supply of good, well-heated bathwater at the right temperature! Not too hot, not too cold. But a fine blend of hot and cold oozing out merrily from the wall shower. And not so only during the first few spurts of the shower, but steadily and consistently, like a musical trill, throughout the duration of the bath — that our ancestors decreed as essential to morning cleansing.
The array of new-fangled gizmos that adorn modern-day baths, with multitude of levers, knobs and buttons make you wonder if you’re in the cockpit of a Rafale jet or an astronaut on Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket or perhaps in the boiler room dump of an old steam ship. Just when you’re all soaped up and turning into a happy, baritone bathroom singer, the shower suddenly squirts and begins to spurt scalding water, instead of the soothing warm one earlier. And you can’t even open your eyes to turn off the offending knob. No wonder, tear-jerker TV shows were called soaps!
In the days of yore, when I was growing up in the canal colonies of mofussil towns, the standard operating procedure for winter baths was to be issued half a bucket of hot water, to which one added another half of cold water to get the desired temperature. The barometer was your index finger, which when dipped into the mix came out neither singed nor numbed with chill. As soon as the bucket passed the finger test, you peeled off your clothes to quickly finish the morning ablution before there was a knock on the door by the next bather with his/her half-bucket.
Then came the big invention of the immersion rods that dangled dangerously into the water bucket plugged at 220 watts of live power supply. No finger-dip tests, then, for fear of being electrocuted. You took what you got from the good rod and managed the right mix with mugfuls of cold water.
The advent of geysers was simple and manageable, as there were only two water taps: one with red dot and the other with blue, denoting hot and cold. Trouble started with the addition of multiple options of mixers, diverters, wall showers, telephone showers, with further options of getting streams like waterfall, rain or drizzle.
My first encounter with bathroom puzzles was nearly a decade ago when venturing for a bath in a luxury hotel in Switzerland. I stepped into the tub and merrily started exploring all the wonders on the wall one by one, till a strange switch caught my fancy. With curiosity getting the better of me, I switch it on too. And lo and behold! The frosted glass wall partitioning the bathroom from the main room suddenly turned translucent and revealed all the goings-on with absolute transparency on the other side!
Ever since, I have stuck to the good old lota and bucket bath. Carrying them into even seven-star bathrooms abroad.
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