Well you know I've been living at the 'rents house for some weeks now, settling in like a dream and finding things as mixed and contrasting as a night out with Dinidu and a group of gay Christians who like a bit of violence in their spare time.
The food is continually astounding, it's rice and curry almost every night and even the "western" food, a term I use with the looseness of the Sri Lankan highway code's chapter on how to use a roundabout, tastes like Sri Lankan food. My Mum does my washing and tries her hand at ironing my shirts, though ironing's not up there at the top of her list of talents so I tend to have to iron them again, particularly if I intend to wear them.
I've got a kind of privacy as well, my own area on the ground floor with a bedroom, bathroom, TV and small sitting room complete with my practice drum kit. I suppose it's a bit like having your "private" section while travelling on a plane, only your section has got glass walls, so it's private but in a confusing and complicated way.
All in all the positives are plentiful and I'm very grateful that in this time of need I've got the option to live there for a while.
But the negatives, oh the negatives, are tough going at times too. My lifestyle is suddenly under a microscope, quite literally at times as my Dad owns several hundred of the things and they're scattered around in various locations. A couple of weeks ago I was the recipient of a mini lecture from the old man on why all mineral water is a waste of money. He gave me this valuable information in that tone. You know, the one that sounds as if he's passing on a secret that was passed down to him by his Father and should never be told to anyone outside the family.
I faced a cross examination that would have made Barrack Obama turn into a snivelling shadow of his confident self when my Mum asked me what the white box in the bathroom was. I had to break it to her that it is a box of moist arse wipes, which are arse wipes that are moist, not wipes made for moist arses. I reckon the conversation when I told them I was getting divorced was much easier. That time I didn't have to explain why I didn't want to use the dodgy shower head arse douche type thing they'd installed or why toilet paper on its own doesn't always do it for me.
A few days later I was their version of a war criminal who has violated every human right ever invented and then stolen three Mars Bars from the local shop without paying for them, all while parked on a single yellow line. My crime? I suggested that I throw away an already three day old cooked chicken wing that was left in its tin foil on the dining table after dinner. I promise you it wasn't me being extravagant or wasteful, a Sri Lankan crow would have swooped in, looked at the chicken wing and rejected it for lack of meat before flying off to annoy some white tourists.
But my suggestion was met with those gasps of dismay that Sri Lankan parents are so good at. Gasps that had hundreds of words and thoughts behind them but were never actually spoken. The words and thoughts were things like:
"What have we brought him up to be?" and "How did we fail so spectacularly in our parental duties?" and others.
Meanwhile in my head were the thoughts:
"Fuck, fuck, fuck. Why did I make such a stupid suggestion? Why did I forget rule number one and just let my mouth work before thinking?" Rule number one, as you know, is never to suggest throwing away food, or pretty much throwing away anything for that matter, or even to suggest anything to be honest.
The biggest puzzler is my bathroom, well specifically my toilet. It's sort of my own bathroom, in that it's located in my area and rarely, though sometimes, used by other passers by. It used to be my bathroom when I was a teenager and lived there but I think it must have got smaller since then. I know, with the certainty of a bear strolling into some woods while carrying a pack of Andrex moist wipes, that I haven't got any bigger since my teenage years. Us Sri Lankans don't, we just get smaller.
This bathroom is like the average aircraft one with the addition of a shower cubicle. I stand in position and pee, I turn clockwise ninety degrees and use the sink and then, if I turn clockwise another one hundred and eighty degrees then take one step forwards, I'm in the shower. Come to think of it, it's the perfect bathroom for skateboarders. They originally built the bathroom and the whole flat for my Grandmother, but I can't remember her skateboarding.
The toilet, the main subject of this post, is like a phenomenon, a legend in its own lifetime. You see, this toilet is quite modern and has all the working parts needed to be the quintessential toilet about town. It's perfectly comfortable (for anyone under about 5 feet tall), the lid doesn't slam down as you're peeing and it has a good and powerful flush.
You see, with this toilet, no matter what you do, how you flush it or how many sheets of paper you use in the wiping, it never, and I mean never, manages to get rid of the last piece of paper you used. It doesn't matter what type of poo you've done. It can be a ghost and you may have only used one sheet, just to check when all along you knew you needn't have. It might have been a two flushes type of clingon that needed a small rainforest's worth of paper. It matters not.
This toilet, which must have some kind of brain built into it, knows all. You can use normal paper or moist paper, or (my personal favourite) a cunning mixture of both and it matters not in the slightest. The toilet knows. You can do a short flush, a normal one or one of those extended ones that you're not supposed to do when there's a water shortage. And, you've guessed it, the toilet knows.
It just happens, like gravity or one of those other laws of nature. No matter what you do the last sheet stays there defiantly. I've thought about unfurling a whole toilet roll and then winding it back on the roll so that the first piece is the last one. But there's no point, the toilet would know, it's that intelligent. I've thought about throwing the last piece elsewhere, but it would be useless, perhaps a bit unhygienic too.
It kind of unnerves a fellow you know. To sit on a toilet and know that it's got a mind of its own, that it's quietly thinking in the background as you go about doing your business.
I just hope it can't read and access the internet.