Since all private and public toilets throughout the kingdom are going to be closed 27, 28, 29 and 31 May, this is as good a time as any to think about who you want to nominate for the Annual Most-Authentic Loo in Nepal Contest. The organisers have their septic tanks overflowing with aspirants for the coveted Golden Potty award-the highest honour a john can be bestowed in this land. This year's contest has taken on added significance because the whole country is going down the toilet, and also because the contest is being officially sponsored by the Nepal Tourism Board's "Amazing Nepal" Campaign.
Our tourism industry has finally woken up to the importance of bathrooms in boosting visitor arrivals. The Nepali loo could prove to be an enormous draw, especially for Indian visitors fleeing the loo in the torrid Indo-Gangetic plains every summer. (Best slogan entry: "Visit Nepal: Our loos are cooler").
The criteria for entering your favourite loo are quite simple, really. Fill out the application form, taking care to provide as much graphic detail as possible about why you think your nominee is eligible, paying special attention to its bouquet (for example: sulphurous and cholera-like, with a musky aftertaste).
Olfactory attributes are measured in radial units: the radius from the epicentre at which the WC in question can still cure a person with chronic sinusitis. This year's entries once more includes the toilet at Nepalgunj Airport which was disqualified last year because it had bagged the Golden Potty ten years in a row and it would not be fair to the other candidates.
The Authority on Civil Aviation in Nepal, which has a nose for these things, has tried its best to keep the ammonia content at Nepalgunj airport roughly in the same parts per million concentration as the atmosphere of the Jupiter moon, Ganymede. But recent visitors have reported that standards in Nepalgunj are dropping. No longer does the ethereal, durian-like odour of deceased oysters assail the nostrils of dear and departing passengers.
Our national flag carrier has been offering a special promo to give visitors a whiff of Nepal even before they get here. Returning Nepali passengers immediately feel at home in the cabin aroma at Gatwick itself. Tourists leaving Nepal are also given a final reminder of the sights and smells they are leaving behind when they visit the men's room of the Tribhuvan International Airport Departure Lounge.
One way to measure if the john you are nominating is up to mark is to carry out the fool-proof canary test. In recent trials, for instance, a caged canary was asphyxiated with methane poisoning inside the VIP bathroom of the Central Secretariat of His Majesty's Government at the Singha Darbar. Another strong contender for this year's award is the toilet at Bir Hospital's Out-Patient Department, where a lake has recently formed because of dam construction involving certain unidentified floating objects. In the nearby ENT ward patients have been miraculously cured.
This year's Golden Potty award promises to be an exciting gala event at the Royal Nepal Academy Hall, which has my own favourite for this year's contest: a urinal with an arsenal of pisspots each with a warhead in the 20-25 megaton range.