I must’ve been in many, many, rooms over the course of my life, so when I was presented with this challenge, for writing 101, I thought ‘easy peasy’. Problem is, my mind just went straight back to rooms which held bitter memories; the gaudy hotel room where I argued horribly with my daughter on the last day, blighting forever the memories of an otherwise perfect holiday. My nan’s cosy bedsitting room, the room where she had a devastating stroke which she ultimately died from. The living room where I sat, fingers in ears, to block out the noise from our horrendous neighbours. It gets worse, but I won’t bore you.
So I consciously turned my mind to happier times and places. I could write about our newly decorated sitting room, whose huge French windows look out across our, currently, lush green garden. This year, the summer has been perfect – lots of sun, and lots of rain, so the flowers are plentiful, the vegetables are abundant, and the grass is green (though to be honest, it’s probably more moss and weeds than actual grass). The birds flit from tree to tree settling on the bird table in between, and I can see the red and blue striped hammock, strung between the apple and the pear tree, rocking gently in the breeze.
That seemed a bit of a cop out though. It’s just what I can see right now. No, to properly meet the demands of the challenge, I need to use the colours of my memory.
Now, I know I keep harping on about toilets. So I suppose I shouldn’t go there, but yep, that’s where I’m going.
I think you’ll agree that toilets don’t usually have views. It’s not the first thing you think about when you think about a loo. They’re often windowless, or if they do have windows, they’re mercifully glazed in opaque glass.
The one I’m thinking of had a window alright. A huge picture window. It wasn’t glazed either. Nope, just open to the elements.
It was in Goa, on a spice plantation. It was a very hot, humid day in a very jungly plantation. We’d had the tour, seen lots of things growing on trees, bushes, under trees etc. We’d seen a man climbing barefoot up a towering palm tree to collect coconuts. And we’d been shown how to eat our yummy lunch, properly, with our fingers out of a banana leaf. It had been a lovely, and interesting morning, but sooner or later the inevitable happened. I needed a wee.
I think it’s fair to say that some of the public toilets in India can be a bit dodgy. Very dodgy. I’m pretty blasé about it these days and go if I have to.
‘hmm… you gonna risk it?’ asked my husband as we were pointed in the direction of a small thatched building up a flight of rickety looking steps.
‘you go first mum, see what it’s like’ said my slightly less adventurous daughters.
‘Ok, bursting!’ I said. I was getting a bit knee knockingly desperate.
The little building turned out to house just one toilet, surprisingly a ‘western’ one, which was situated in the middle of the left hand wall as you entered. On the right hand wall was a hole in the dirt floor besides which there was a pail of water with a coconut shell complete with handle that you could use as a scoop, so that you could flush the loo and wash your hands.
The back wall was non-existent.
This took me by surprise a tad, as, underneath my shorts and tee shirt I was wearing a swimming costume, which I naturally had to strip right off to be able to ‘errmm… do my thing.
Frankly, I could have stayed there all day. Set on a high ledge, the loo overlooked a large pond, nearly a lake in fact, covered almost completely in huge white water lillies. The pond was surrounded by different varieties of palms, plants with man-sized leaves, and hanging pink and purple flowers that I didn’t know the names of. Birds were swooping about catching insects just above the water. It was quite the most delightful view I think I have ever come across.
Sitting there, on the loo, naked, caressed by a cooling breeze and staring out across that wonderland, which looked as if it had been created by some Disney cartoonist, felt very surreal. I’m pretty sure no-one could see me, but there was a queue forming outside, so I couldn’t linger for too long. However, the memory of that place remains with me as the finest, and most surprising loo I’ve visted…….so far!