Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Digital Toilet Paper

A man bewildered at the meagre resources availed for his project
The recent surge of tourists into China has stimulated technological innovation. Case in point, the ‘Temple of Heaven Park’.  This place is extremely popular with foreign tourists. But it is popular with domestic tourist too but for a different reason. Toilet paper.

You see traditionally most public restrooms in China have not provided tissue. Instead, public toilet users are expected to carry their own. But they don’t as evidenced by the finger graffiti cracking on the toilet walls. Moreover locals are known to prefer using public toilets to their private ones. This would not be a problem, but for the growing number of international tourists. It took a while for the Temple of Heaven Park to realise why they were not breaking even despite the increased traffic on the park floors. The profits were going down the toilet! How? Well, it was a hard nut to crack, but they figured it out. What happened is that due to international visitors, the park had to provide TP in the toilets (actually outside the toilets). This was quite some relief to this tier of tourists, but some local people saw an opportunity and seized it. Now they were flocking the Temple of Heaven Park in droves for its tissue paper value and, shall we say, for release and relieve.

TP Trouble at THP
TP lifting has become so rampant at the THP in Beijing that authorities have installed dispensers equipped with facial recognition cameras and timers. Visitors to the rest rooms, who would mind drawing sketches on the walls, must make eye contact with the camera. They don’t have to smile, but they must make eye contact. The visitor duly registered and thanked for visiting, the dispenser asks whether one would want white paper or coloured paper, then scented or not scented, wet or dry after which it spits out four pieces of TP, wishes the visitor a pleasant squat (zài jiàn), and calls out ‘next”. Even if you need more tissue, there is no way of mollifying the machine, you have to sit tight (if you know what I mean) for ten minutes, which is the time allowed before you can engage the TP computer again. If you attempt to show your face before ten minutes, the computer gets angry and replies in mandarin, “yu fu. woti yu yit” which means please go away.

Kenyan by birth, preferred by Choice.
If it was jukistopia, enterprising youngsters would be at hand already with tissue. So if you are planning to visit that city where human rights became women rights or vice versa, carry a roll or two of Rosy, (okay, even hannan, all tissues are chandaria's anyway), it could pay your ticket back.

But perhaps that mall along the super highway that isn't,  +Thika Road Mall, and other malls reeling under the weight of human traffic without any tangible translation into sales might want to take note of this innovation and make another "Kenya success story".

Nota bene on vice versa: if the city is planning to visit you
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