Just last night, the toilet in the apartment I was staying in Seoul got choked, most likely succumbing to my rebellious act of flushing toilet paper down the toilet.
That the incident happened just before bedtime not helping at all for the situation, I realized it was the first time I had to face a clogged toilet bowl in my 30 years of life.
Am I embarrassed for my lack of plumbing experience? Nope. On the contrary, I saw it as a testament to the sound sanitary/sewer system I had enjoyed in Singapore for the past 30 years.
I’m not proclaiming that we have the best or perfect system, because surely one out of the millions staying in the city would have gone through a similar experience in their local homes. But given the diverse situations I had been through in Singapore, the system not failing on me once should be enough to speak for itself.
I spent 2/3 of my life in a neighbourhood known to be the congregation of the poorest in the country. I had stayed in various army camps, old and new, without the need to throw the toilet paper into a separate bin instead of flushing it down the bowl. My bunk-in at various dormitories in local universities (known to be subject to indescribable abuse by students from all over the world) was also smooth (I’m not touching on the grimy shower stalls, though).
On all my experience with local toilets, none quite inspired the harrowing fear I faced last night, that the grime might overflow the bowl.
Overseas, I had been to the most developed countries, which of course, had toilets that did not form a distinct part of my travel memories.
On the other end of the spectrum, I had been to toilets with holes that opened to a hillside piled with waste, layered to sediments, dating back to the start of tourism in Western China, toilets that was flushed with brown water in an Indian airport, downtown Malaysian/Indonesian toilets littered with waste all over the surfaces except the inside of the bowl, toilets that required manual flushing of buckets of water in rural Thailand… and the list goes on.
Even countries that boast the origin of the maker of the world’s most popular phones also required users not to flush toilet paper down the toilet bowl.
Fact is, in terms of convenience and maintenance, Singapore do have one of the best plumbing systems I had come across.
And this is something that we should not brush off with nonchalance. It is only when the system fails that we appreciate the critical roles that toilets play. Isn’t it great that we do not need to worry about this for the most part of our lives (for me, 30 years)?