Coastweek -- Travel
exposes one to many unusual situations and it is not simply the
fact of travel but also where you visit when you travel,
writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.
One meets also sorts of
opportunities and impediments when one travels.
They come in many forms
and the most common form of impediment is language limitation.
There are also others
like cultural barriers and local prejudices that could be an
impediment to enjoying or completing the travel experience.
Kachumbari gave me
examples where he had witnessed fellow travellers in very
embarrassing or frustrating moments.
Let me start with one
This first one happened
at a hotel in Nairobi.
This was a relatively
high end hotel that also had excellent conferencing facilities.
On that material day
there were several meetings taking place at the hotel.
There were private
sector board meetings, foundations as well as civil society
activation meetings and a large government sponsored gathering
that had people representing interests from all parts of the
Almost every single
facility that the venue had was occupied with some activity.
Kachumbari had gone to
the hotel to attend a board meeting and during a break in the
proceedings, he went to the washrooms.
He found that it had a
short queue waiting for the facilities to free up.
As he waited, he
observed one of the people in the washroom, a clergyman by his
dressing, finish his business and then go to the hand wash
basins to wash his hands before leaving place.
There was one other
person also washing their hands.
The clergyman seemed to
know the person and they started a conversation even as they
attended to the business at hand.
The clergyman wet his
hands and then pressed the pump on one of the several bottles
that were placed on the working top where the hand wash basin
was located in order to release some soap.
Whilst he was doing this
he was also talking to his colleague.
He started to rub his
hands to lather the soap and nothing seemed to happen.
He pressed the pump for
more material and put it under the tap and rubbed harder.
The lather did not
He looked at his
colleague and the hands were fully lathered with plenty of suds.
He pressed the dispenser
a third time and repeated the process and still did not get any
His colleague finished
washing his hands and started to dry them with the disposable
paper towels provided.
The two continued
talking and just as he colleague was about to leave, the
clergyman commented as to how hard the water was because his
soap was not lathering like that of his colleague before.
The colleague suggested
that maybe the soap may be “off” so pushed over the soap
dispenser he had been using.
The clergyman tried it
and lo and behold his rubbing action produced lather.
He quickly finished
washing his hands as his colleague waited and they then made to
Just as they were about
to exit the washroom, one of the attendants entered the space
and the clergyman collared him and went back to the wash hand
basin he had been using.
He told the washroom
attendant that one of the soap dispensers had material that had
gone off and that it should be emptied and the right soap be put
He did not wait for the
response as they seemed to be in a hurry and they left.
It transpired that the
clergyman had not read the label on the dispenser despite having
tried a few times to use the material without achieving the
What he had tried to use
as hand soap was actually hand moisturiser.
The container was
transparent and one could see that the material was different in
colour to the other one that had hand wash soap in it.
The labelling was also
transparent with the writing in italics.
It seems that the
thinking was that everything put near the was hand basins was
In most places that is
It is also true that
most places do not offer hand moisturiser.
Most of the experience
of people using hotels and similar establishments is limited to
hand soap only.
It was not easy to tell
the difference unless one was a regular of the establishment and
probably gone through the mistake several times.
It is not often that an
establishment provides both hand soap and moisturiser in its
The trend of providing
both is increasing but it is necessary for the providers to
realise that with the multiplicity of people using those
facilities, it would be prudent to very blatantly differentiate
the look of the dispensers as well as putting very large
This may not look
elegant as establishments of this type and size tend to want to
be “fine’ and discrete in how they present themselves.
However, if one is
opening their establishment to conferences and meetings, one
should consider that the people who will attend the events will
come from a very mixed background and the service offered should
take this into consideration.
As Kachumbari says, it
is all in a day’s experience.
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