Sunday 3 May 2020


Musings from Doha: COVID MUSINGS...TOILET PAPER IS NOT ALWAYS WHITE!: As the Corona virus attacked mercilessly, acute shortage of one product reported in US and elsewhere was that of toilet paper.Stores acros...

Friday 1 May 2020


As the Corona virus attacked mercilessly, acute shortage of one product reported in US and elsewhere was that of toilet paper.Stores across the country   were  sold out of toilet rolls within hours!! Some of the stores had to hire security guards to patrol customers.Photos and videos of empty shelves of stores in US in that respect were going on rounds on social media around the world!!It might have got more circulation  to  satisfy sadistic egos of many around the world to see the pitiable and helpless plight of a country on its knees which  always boasts of aplenty in everything.Those rolls with faces of Trump and Obama stamped on them, which I myself had noticed on the shelves a year back on my last visit to US- though I was not amused  - also must have vanished!

In a bid to face the shortage of toilet rolls-I don't know about US- but an Australian newspaper printed an eight page special lift out inside completed with handy cut lines for the use of  the reader as toilet paper!The marketing techniques along with the good intentions of the newspaper has to be appreciated.

Than finding the how and why of this shortage-could be panic buying, I was thinking tangentially.... of options left for an American in this matter.Then  I could find out that it is for the last two-three generations only that the Americans are using toilet rolls-since 1871 to be exact.Until then they were using hay, sticks,stones,wool etc but hardly water !!It is not my business to comment on what Americans want  to do but now toilet paper is big business in US.Musings on something being used everyday there but seldom dare to speak of......

Which is superior?
I used to get mildly embarrassed when I see  toilet rolls in the hotels in US with no other options.While in Europe I don't have that much problem since in many countries either bidet or water sprays are also provided.Being an Indian I am used to rinse with water,the way we have been serving the purpose for the last so many centuries like anyone from Middle East,South Asia, Far East or many other places.... albeit now making use of many new gadgets but all with rinse of water!Many of the Americans and westerners think theirs is the superior way while  Asians are using water only because they can't afford 'luxury' of paper is far from true!In fact it is the other way.Water is the cleanest option as far as I am concerned. If we all use water to clean our face,our teeth and body, why  should we settle the dirtiest part of the body with paper?But as long as Americans and others are happy with their own ways, I don't have any problem either!!

How toilet paper was invented?
It is recorded that China had invented the toilet paper as back as 6th century but hardly practiced.First commercial invention of toilet paper was in US done by JC Gayetty of New York. He commercially produced the toilet paper in 1857 with the purpose as medical tissue for hemorrhoids.He was so confident of the acceptance of the new product that each paper was water marked 'JC GAYETTY NY' which was advertised as 'the greatest necessity of the age'.But it was Seth Wheeler of Albany, US who officially patented perforated toilet paper rolls in 1891.Soon the Americans changed from the 'stone' age to 'new age of necessity' and never looked back.As the Americans loved it as a product with which  they can't live without, many Europeans followed suit but Asians shunned it at large.


A National Toilet Paper Day?
Yes, US has a national toilet paper day which falls on 26 August every year!They want to commemorate the day a toilet roll was sold in 1871 which changed their life style thereafter.US has again the distinction of the only single country to have such a national day! It seems Americans are very sensitive to toilet paper.In 1973 there was a shortage in the whole country after one of the jokes of comedian Johnny Carson was  taken seriously by the people.Within hours the shelves of supermarkets were sold out of toilet rolls and it took weeks to normalize the situation!!

An American uses 100 rolls in a year while US spends more than six billion dollars a year on toilet tissues. That's big business by any standards!!Americans  now love the toilet rolls in white color though colored rolls to match the bathroom decor were available until few years back.Other than colors, toilet rolls comes in various textures,scents,patterns and textures.

                                                             WEDDING GOWN USING TOILET PAPER

During Desert Storm days, US army is reported to have used coloured toilet paper to camouflage the tanks!!In US, at least in New York, they run even competitions using toilet paper for wedding dress offering big prizes! All sponsored by- you guessed well- manufacturers of toilet rolls!!Toilet paper is big business in US!! of folding the toilet paper!
If one is yet to come across a word Toilegami, it is the art of folding toilet paper!  I have observed in a number of hotels world wide esp the edge of the  toilet roll folded like a triangle or V shaped.The hotels gives the message that the cleaning staff was already there after the last guest has left the room.Now that this art has moved to so many shapes from heart to butterfly, there are some Japanese automated machines helping in folding out such images!
Toilet roll is big business in US!!

It was in Tokyo that I came across the 'washlet' for the first time.I have seen the same in South Korea as well. Washlet is a most modern toilet with an auto rinse of water equipped with bidet and air blower to dry! It has a small control  panel on the side which takes commands like pressure of water, speed of blower, deodorizer etc. This also reminds me the fact that unless one is computer savvy he or she cannot use such a toilet!

Photos:courtesy google images.


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