My friend Rosemarie says one must always try and look for the good in everything and everyone, and one of the good things about Zimbabwe is that the loos are consistent.
You know what I mean... consistently awful.... but.. at least they are consistent !!
I mean one knows never to expect loo paper, one knows they will always be consistently ghastly, consistently unclean, absolutely guaranteed not to have any loo paper, very seldom even boasting a loo seat, and always difficult to access.
One knows that one must always find a key to enter which is always a joke, cos if they are special enough to be locked at all times, and difficult to enter, they should at least be remotely clean.
But as I said, at least they are consistent, one expects nothing from a Zimbabwe loo.
In fact one avoids a Zimbabwe loo at all costs, one would rather drive hundreds of kilometers to get home to avoid a Zimbabwe loo, or to drive for miles and miles find a layby which is not inhabited by curio sellers, vegetable sellers, cattle or donkeys, to avoid a loo.
So when a girl travels to greener climes, she looks forward with great anticipation to the wonders of a non Zimbabwean loo. One fantasizes about the fragrant lavender smell, the sparkling clean floor tiles, the soft double quilted loo paper, one even gets vaguely excited about the fact that there will definitely be a loo seat, possibly even those nice soft tissue disposable loo seat covers.
In addition there is the ever-so-sanitary flushing system which precludes one from ever having to touch nasty germ ridden items which are no doubt teeming with first world germs, (if there is such a ting).
Items like the loos which flush automatically, sensing somehow mysteriously when one has completed ones transaction.
These are a bit frightening to first timers however as they scare you out of your wits, thinking that either there is an alien in the cubicle with you, or that you are about to be sucked down into a lavatorial vortex, kicking and screaming never to be seen again until the sewers pump out into the Atlantic Ocean or wherever sewers go these days.
Just as satisfyingly hygienic are the basin taps that turn on also by sensor. One just has to wave one's hand under the faucet and lo and behold, soft, warm clean water runs out as if by magic, they also turn off by magic after one has rinsed ones hands in the prescribed amount of time.
No wonder they all have asthma and eczema in the First World, they are never exposed to a single germ, hapless piece of bacteria, slight hint of dirt which do so well to build ones immune system.
And of course there are the clean paper towels in every loo worldwide except in Africa, and somehow First Worlders by some strange quirk of human nature, always throw their rubbish into a well placed bin instead of onto the floor.
There should also be a hook behind the door of the stainless steel cubicle, upon which one can hang ones coat and handbag. All the pampered niceties with which one associates life in civilisation.
And so, with much excitement, I sallied forth during my recent trip to Stockholm, to visit Little She Who Must Also be Obeyed, and with a satisfied and expectant gleam in my eye I confidently walked into a Swedish loo or 'toalett as they call it.
Oh bliss, I gleefully hung my bag on the shining stainless steel hook behind the gleaming stainless steel door, (there is never a hook in a Zimbabwe toilet cos someone stole it !!)
I carefully and smugly eased from the dispenser one of those soft germ free , sanitized, toilet tissue loo covers designed to protect ones ample rear from infection of an objectionable nature.
I covered the seat with the tissue and sat down supremely confident, infinitely comfortable, and observed the nice shining floor (germ free), stared at the new fangled appliance that disposes of all sorts of unmentionables, observed the neatly written roster stating (in Swedish of course) that the loo was serviced hourly, noted wit satisfaction that graffiti was nowhere to be seen.
And then horror of horrors, my eyes alighted on the toilet roll holder in which I was confidently assured of finding not one, not two but usually three or four even, rolls of that double, soft quilted, cushioned, scented, sanitized toilet tissue...
My eyes flew frantically around the cubicle, perhaps science had taken giant steps since I was last here, hopefully an aromatic scientific hand would emerge from the toilet bowl and help me out, or possibly ones rear end would be magically rearranged via a first world new fangled invention that I had not noticed during my last visit. But no, oh woe was me, no soft gush of magical mist did I feel, oh no, nothing of that nature, it was just as bad as my last disastrous visit to the Enkledoorn BP Garage !!
Now I am in a total and unseemly dilemma, in a Zimbabwean loo one comes prepared for such an eventuality, one takes ones own tissue in ones pocket, one, in fact never travels without it !! But here I am in the Land of Plenty, the land of LAGOM (not too much but not too little) and I am without loo paper !!
And what is worse is that my handbag where containing my neat sachet of tissues, is smugly sitting on that stainless steel hook on the back of the door, at least two meters away from me across the shining germ free tiled floor !!
It's unfair, it's unjust, it's not the First World I have always know, standards are falling, life is being eroded before my very eyes, blame it on LAGOM to be sure !!