Saturday, April 21, 2012

44. Dudes, What The Hell Kind Of Logic Is This?

I stepped into the air-conditioned shop of the Unity plaza building out of the midday heat in Colombo.

I had bought my first hp DeskJet printer for Rs. 5000/= at The Unity Plaza. A few months later as the cartridges ran out of ink, I went to the same place in the hope of buying replacement ink cartridges. I couldn’t believe my ears when the salesperson quoted the price -  Rs. 5500/=!!!

I was flabbergasted and told him I bought the complete printer itself only for Rs 5000/= a few months back. What he told me knocked me over totally. He said, 
“Sir, we can give you the latest model of the printer you have for just Rs. 4850/= now, a knock down price, because you happen to be a regular customer."
What the hell kind of logic is that? I was feeling hot in the air-conditioned interior.

So, I bought a brand new printer again instead of replacement ink cartridges and saved Rs 650/= and ended up with an extra printer without cartridges. In other words an unnecessary, fully functional heap of plastic with no mechanical problem, and also a heap of e-waste.

But still, dudes, what the hell kind of logic is this?

Now, the ones who pull the strings should not get the wrong idea to impose more new taxes to sell the printer at Rs10000/= and make the difference. That’s not what I mean. The prize of the cartridges should come down to an affordable price from this current ridiculous one. This should be the result of some moronic tax regulation. Otherwise, the printer with original cartridges can’t be less expensive than the two cartridges or the other way around.

And when new cartridges ran out of ink I tried to refill them at another famous shop in Unity Plaza building itself.  It was done at a reasonably low price. They worked just fine when they demonstrated with the test copy in the shop. And at home, they worked until they printed 6 more copies and dried up in 2 days. So much for their refilling service.!  I cursed the refilling dudes and determined not only not to try it again but also to spread the word.

My father used to shave with a metal alloy Gillette safety razor, which used four sided razor blades. All he discarded were only the spent blades.  Razor itself was a lifetime investment if you used it carefully. 

He used to write with a Parker fountain pen earlier. He bought pots of ink for refills. All he discarded were glass inkpots, which wasn’t all that frequent.

I, on the other hand, use plastic triple bladed disposable razors, ballpoint pens, and gel pens, which I discard much more frequently at an alarming rate. My spent razor means permanently fitted blades and plastic handle and everything.  Discarded ballpoint pen consists of  two tubes of plastic with some more plastic fitting which are of course non bio degradable. Only with razors and pens I pollute the earth perhaps 100 times more than my father did.
These are only two examples. Lets’ forget about the plastic water and fizzy drink bottles and the lot for the moment.

The modern consumer pattern doesn’t support environmental policies they preach about. It beats me why the system supports more waste generation.
A Teflon coating over the paint of your house is fully justifiable. It’ll prolong the need for another layer of paint for years to come. That’s how to use plastic to protect the environment and save the nonrenewable resources.
But why does this happen? When you buy a printer every time you want to buy replacement cartridges, where are we going to end up? May be there are other products also like this unknown to me. Still this defies all logic. Something is wrong somewhere because someone turned a blind eye.

These are my suggestions to whom it may concern.

  • I know it would be difficult to roll back to my father’s metal alloy razor era. Nevertheless, razors in budget packets can be sold with one handle and ten heads that can be fitted on the handle.  Pollution will be much less and you do the math.
  • Sell ink or gel refills for ballpoint and gel pens at one third of the price of a pen. Many people will use the same pen much longer, and again you do the math, as I’m real bad at it.
  • Sell printer ink cartridges at a reasonable price, perhaps the same price as those fake refills.
  • Sell soft drinks and water in glass bottles and stop this ridiculous system of charging extra for deposits for the glass bottles. Once this is stopped, nobody will want to collect glass bottles at homes and the customers will even return them or dump them in assigned trash bins. An effective retrieval system of empty bottles for refills will pay dividends.
Well I can go on like this, but let’s try these first.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Road trips are one of our prime time holiday activities. To see the black ribbon of road rushing at you and disappear underneath you is a feeling worth experiencing.  

Also, once you learn to enjoy the journey as much or even more than the destination no journey is boring. And you won’t be looking for shortcuts.

Nothing can match the meals and tea/coffee breaks on the way. You either eat at a wayside restaurant, or simply eat under a tree sitting on a rock. I’ve always been thinking of buying that portable LP gas cylinder with the mini stove on top of it, which මාරයා (Maraya) had explained in his blog post but never got around to it. I don’t know how safe it is to carry it in a vehicle exposed to direct sunlight, heat and a few bangs. 

As much as the pleasures, there are nightmares in road trips, too. One is breakdowns.  This is rare thanks to the reliable Japanese engines, especially the diesels. If you treat them right, they are grateful and faithful. I involuntarily plant a kiss on my vehicle, every time it gets us safely home through the dark night, hauling several hundred kilometers, when so many things could have gone wrong. The secret is checking all liquid levels and changing filters, belts and tires on time. In addition, to be on the safe side I carry two spare wheels, so I won’t feel that vulnerable when I’m on the spare wheel, in the middle of nowhere, in dark rainy night with several hundred kilometers to go.

All those things are more or less under your control.
There are some more nightmares, that are totally out of your control and you are at mercy of. Forgetting about the traffic cops, the other nightmare is the toilet facilities for travelers. Actually, that’s what this blog post is all about. You can’t carry a mobile toilet unless you have a RV or mobile home like in those other countries. 

I saw on the internet there is a website also which has listed the toilet facilities when traveling. It’ll take some more time for us to make use of that here in Sri Lanka.

The first option, which most of us resort to, is using the toilet of a wayside restaurant.

In most of the restaurants, the toilets are not very clean and our womenfolk walk into them with ‘default’ disgusted expression.  And, seven times out of ten, they walk out whispering they’ve been right. You need rolls of paper to sit on those toilet seats, or it’s so smelly you can’t breathe inside , or the previous dude hadn’t flushed it properly and you nearly puked.

Even to that that toilet, you can’t simply walk in as if you owned the place, because they are for their customers only. Therefore, to become a customer you sit around a table and have a cup of tea you really didn’t want.  Then you get the moral right to use the toilet. Sometimes you get a 5 liter bottle of water and become a customer. There are times when you have drunk their tea or bought the bottle of water you hear that their toilet is out of order. 

We men can just pull up on a roadside and walk into the bush and water a tree, like I always do. Ladies find this a lot difficult for obvious reasons and finding a location for that isn’t always easy either. For the number 2 job, well it’s a real problem for either sex. This is not uncommon while travelling because it is very easy to get the runs due to the strange meals and their weird combinations you take at strange hours making your biological clock go haywire. This can turn a road trip into a nightmare. 

Well when the worst come to the worst, we male folks will have to pull up, creep into the bush with as many tissues as possible or the jerry can  of water you take and relieve yourself.  This is unhygienic and disgusting no doubt. However, when you run out of options it’s better than shitting your pants.

We spend billions building expressways and surfacing roads. Why hasn’t anyone thought about building toilets and shower complexes for road travelers and maintaining them in hygienic conditions? Someone will get some employment, too.  However, definitely not the way most of those pay toilets are maintained at the moment, where the prime target is grabbing the fee and not checking the cleanliness.

When will that day dawn, when a call of a nature is not a nightmare to steal the pleasure of a well-earned road trip?