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In every soul, there is a line that with the crossing of which there can be no truck. There is a sacrifice for the social good which one will just not make. I was surprised to find mine when, during the first stages of water restrictions in Victoria to combat the current drought, it was declared we must each take hot showers of not more than 90 seconds, and every disparate element of my psyche came together in instant accord and declared with clarity, NO. There was no internal debate, no guilt, just no. I would happily make extra steps to save water in any other facet of life, but as for short showers, no.

Some of you, I am sure, with righteous disdain are right now saying “You selfish, selfish man. It is important”. But, before you get too pompous, consider one of the following eventualities: paper takes lots of water to produce; beef and other non-native meat animals require too much water for the Australian continent to produce; beer and wine take lots of water to produce. Imagine you couldn't have your tabloid newspapers or gossip magazines, had to suffer rationing of meat or milk from any source other than kangaroos, or had limited domestic beer or wine. It is not unreasonable that in a state of crisis such as we find ourselves (or you find yourselves), industries such as these which use lots of water could be rationed. For those of you still sitting in judgment by having smugly avoiding that list, safe in your holier-than-thou, vegetarian, abstinent, non-voyeuristic lives, soy requires ten times the water consumption per mass than wheat. It just happens the sacrifice I wasn't prepared to make is in the primary uses of water, and thus in the first batch asked, being simple and thus easier to sell to the mentally-lazy public (or as the book I am now reading; Queen Victoria, Demon Hunter; might say, the “hoy polloy”)

This all leads me to the point: when the first thing The Revolution asked of me was water temperature and pressure, my sympathy for the struggle of the people waned a little.

Naomi wrote a fine account of this issue, which I reproduce here.
The Hotel Inglaterra was exactly how the [guidebook] described, "... a better place to hang out than actually stay in...". The oldest hotel in Havana, areas of it are being renovated in an attempt to bring it back to it's former glory. Unfortunately, it has a long way to go. Paul and I were finally allowed to change rooms from 308 to 309 on the 2nd night just before midnight, after being told that the hotel was full and changing rooms was not possible. Initially, our concerns about the temperamental, dysfunctional toilet and not having hot water were met with a dismissive "We will send someone up".

Assistance arrived in the form of a reluctant and surly maintenance guy who on the first occasion, the toilet which had been alternating between spewing water violently all over the seat and floor [think heaving tidal wave] and not flushing for us, flushed perfectly for him. He then turned on both taps - the one on the sink which had to be turned right and the one in the shower which had to be turned left, and waited 10 minutes for the water to reach a lukewarm state. Triumphantly, he declared the problem solved and set about explaining in very simple terms how to turn on the tap.

On the second occasion, he banged the toilet lever with his hand to stop it flushing [it was stuck and had been flushing for a quarter of an hour] and therefore ended the annoying, ongoing noise that accompanied the problem, before giving us a look of absolute disdain which spoke volumes about what stupid, demanding tourists we were being.

On the third occasion, after actually fetching some tools and making loud banging noises for 5 minutes or so, he came out and finally conceded in very solemn tones that the toilet was indeed broken as we had been saying all along. Our new room had a working toilet [after we discovered the trick] but we had to settle for a shower that that delivered a mediocre stream of water.”

Said shower also delivered unto my feet a fungal infection.

Whilst the telling of such a tale as this is usually the province of dull, spoilt tourists, Nae and I relay it here for a reason: elsewhere one would have accepted this in a hostel, but not in a quote-unquote 4 star hotel, but, this was part of the aim of the voyage, to see what standards exist in communist Cuba. This is how things are, and it's not too bad, considering there is no chocolate on the island, as no such ship has come to port in some time. Is that a sacrifice you would make?

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Feb. 4th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
I'll wave to you with the arms of the mountain
Hey Dr Paul

How are you finding Queen Victoria, Demon Hunter? I recently read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which had its moments but will probably make a better film (and I humbly thank Natalie Portman for flushing her career in order to provide us with what promises to be the ultimate guilty pleasure b movie).

In more important news, Faith No More have hijacked AFI's concert in Melbourne and I finally snared tickets!

Matt
paulfraser
Feb. 5th, 2010 06:38 am (UTC)
Re: I'll wave to you with the arms of the mountain
I did find P&P&Z a wee bit contrived in places, but the abbreviate-and-slot-in-zombies approach was going to do that. A fine concept that as you say would indeed do better on screen. And will! Hahahahahaha! Ah, a range from dramatic goodness like Closer to the best schlock ever. Truly my favorite actress.

QVDH I found to be better, as it was a fresh narrative woven around historical events, rather than a set text. Also, having more than just zombies added some variety.

Score on FNM tickets. Enjoy.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 8th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
So much reading to do!
Hello stranger!

I have so much reading to do! There appears to much to catch up on :-)

Emails will follow....

Allison
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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