Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Culture shock

I couldn't help but smile when I walked into the ladies' room in O'Hare airport a few moments ago. It's funny to be back in the world of automatic toilet seat covers and motion-detector flush systems... Sometimes when I'm faced with the reality of village outhouses, it's hard to imagine that elsewhere in the world, something so basic as WC's can be so drastically different.

While we're on the topic: American public restrooms are nothing like loos in Japan. While there for a women's conference years ago, I was amazed to find that the seats were heated in the winter. Quite a strange discovery to be made when you don't expect it. And though the Japanese would happily bathe in public bath houses without blinking an eye, they are very, very discreet when it comes to bodily functions. So much so that public restrooms have white noise functions (sounds of a babbling brook, or chirping birds) which get triggered when you lock the door.

OK, so I made it safely from Nairobi to London to Chicago. As did my luggage. My brain isn't quite functioning at full capacity right now, hence the toilet talk. I may have left my mind in the seat pocket on the first flight, most likely when the guy in the seat next to me kept falling asleep flailing his arms in all directions. OK, it wasn't that bad. It just felt that way. I may have gotten an hour's sleep on the next flight. Even got some work done.

Back to London: my friend Melissa came to Heathrow to meet me for coffee. It's a huge gift when she does that. Melissa's not an early riser, and to come and meet me for coffee at 7 a.m. means she had to leave her home very early to catch the trains to the airport. (Thanks again, Mel!) We both started working at ORTV the same summer: 1995. Except, at that stage, Mel was an intern and I just started as full-time staff. It was fun to spend my time visiting with an old friend.

I actually have incredibly good news, but I'm going to put it in a completely different post. Don't want it to get lost between the trivialities of travel...

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