Toilet tricks & toasted tires

In Mondo Weirdo, Wanderlust readers describe their most memorable adventures -- and misadventures. This week's featured subjects: tricky toilets in Asia and toasted airplane tires in Toronto.

By Tim Grace
Published April 24, 1998 7:00PM (EDT)

I was staying at a great old hotel with a big courtyard near the beach in Puri, India. One day after coming back from a stroll, I saw three British guys running out of the hotel. When I looked more closely, I realized that one wasn't running, but was being carried by the other two. Blood was flowing from the injured one's foot. The cut looked deep.

I heard later that he had been in the shower and had cut his foot on the toilet. This was imaginable because the bathroom was one room, and the shower just flowed on the floor, as in so many places in Asia. The toilet was also Asian-style -- just a bowl imbedded in the floor. You flushed it with a plastic pot with a handle. The poor British traveler ended up going home to have his severely gashed foot properly sewn back together.

I didn't give this incident another thought until about five months later. I was in Indonesia on the western side of Sumatra in a small town called Muelaboh. The small and very cheap hotel I was staying in had a similar style toilet, but with no shower. They did have faucets to fill up the flush buckets, though, and the showers were next door.

This toilet was made treacherous because it was very wet all the time. The faucets leaked constantly and, combined with the environment, made a slick slime all over the floor. To top it off, the toilet was on top of three steps, all tiled.

One afternoon, I went to use the toilets, wearing shorts and rubber thongs that I had bought back in Puri, months before. I positioned myself on the porcelain foot pads that are on the side of the toilet. I was never limber enough to enjoy squatting like Asians do, with their feet flat on the floor. I had to always maneuver around on the balls of my feet, because if I tried to flatfoot it, I would fall over backwards.

But this time I was pretty comfortable. I was almost finished when I leaned forward to try a new angle.

When I moved, my rubber-thonged right foot slipped off of the foot pad and went directly down the hole in the toilet. Because the toilet was up three steps, I fell forward down the stairs, my foot stuck in the dirty hole. I did a complete forward somersault.

About the time my back was nearly parallel with the floor, my shit-covered foot came out with a POP! I hit the floor and slid on my back through the slime, with my shorts around my ankles, shitty foot in the air. I hit the door with a loud bang, almost knocking it off the hinges. I was filthy, covered with all sorts of different slime.

But as I bounced off the door, foot still in the air, my first thought was, "Aha! That's how that Brit cut his foot on the toilet in Puri!"

-- Tim Grace

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Aircraft flambi in Toronto

"Easy Victor! Easy Victor! Easy Victor!" was the captain's response immediately following our landing in Toronto. Something felt weird, but I didn't know what until I looked outside and saw flames soaring up from underneath the tires!

As anyone familiar with Mayday codes knows, "Easy Victor" means E-Vacuate! As I sat in my chair waiting for the plane to explode, I thought: This is exactly like it is in the movies, and that was the worst thing about it. My boyfriend instructed me to get down if there was any smoke; meanwhile, the stewardess was shouting at everyone to get to the back of the plane. Before I knew it, I'd pushed past some little old lady and left my boyfriend behind (survival of the fittest kicks in fast).

And then there was the big jump. Boy, that slide is steeper than you imagine. My John Fluvogs had taken a while to get off my feet, but I managed. And so I slid down, followed by 158 or so other passengers.

At the bottom, I found the captain putting out the fire himself; we were miles away from the terminal and the fire department hadn't showed up yet. What a guy.

Later, I was told we really did have the captain to thank for saving our lives; controlling a plane at 500 miles an hour when it has blown all four tires is no easy job.

-- Nicolle Smith

Tim Grace


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