Five Star Stories 2: Modern Plumbing Wonders and the Macho Look

It never ceases to amaze me that all hotels have different plumbing fixtures, especially when it comes to the shower. Each shower has a different protocol to coax out the right amount of hot and cold water and mix them into a bearable temperature. And each one looks different. There are plain vanilla two-knob ones for hot and cold water flow with a central fixture to direct the flow from the shower to the spout or vice versa. The knobs have an “H” or a “C” marked so that one knows what one is doing. Similar markings for the spout and the shower (spout to the left, shower to the right). This set-up I can handle. But then what do you do when there just one control. You need to be a brilliant design engineer to figure out how to manage hot/cold, spout/shower/hand shower all with this one control. Sometimes you may have access to a knob-like fixture which when pulled out enables water flow from the shower. But then, before that, you should have the optimal mix ready or else you run the risk of either an icy-cold shower, or a scalding hot one. And true to Murphy’s law, in winters it is the icy-cold shower which will hit you unannounced and in summers it is the 80 deg C water! (This knob is supposed to remain “pulled-out” with a gentle twist, but often it does not. I have had many a bath holding this errant knob lest it retract into the wall cutting off the shower!)


As if this was not enough, once I had the mortification of having a bath in the nude, in public! Well, nearly in public. This was at Ritz Carlton at Singapore. The bathtub/ shower combo was set against the outer wall of the room. However there was a small catch- the outer wall was a large glass sheet! Standing under the shower one could take in a clear view of the street below and the buildings alongside. And I suppose the outsiders could take in a clear view of yours truly as well. I had to rush to a meeting and I had my bath as quickly as possible. Only later I realized that the glass was a one-way mirror and that for the modest there was an electrically-operated curtain to shut off the would-be voyeur!


Talking about mirrors, there is one thing I absolutely love about the five star bathrooms, the shaving mirrors! Those fancy round convave mirrors (often with an inbuilt little light) affixed on the wall next to the washbasin. Once having shaved, I stare intently at these as they magnify every facial hair and each facial crevice. To be completely honest, I see in the mirror a terrifically handsome man, craggy face and all, every grey strand of moustache magnified, so mature-looking and macho!! At these moments, I’d rather not look into the large normal mirror next to this magical device. I prefer narcissism once in a while!



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