Changing habits

They say one of the most stressful things about traveling or moving is that all of your routines are disrupted. What was once done without thinking, now must be concentrated on. A small example follows.

Our current understanding is that we will not be able to drink tap water in Kandy. We had a short term experience with this during our five days in Cambodia two and a half years ago. But we were not cooking for ourselves and we drank bottled water or other beverages (without ice) and were not much inconvenienced. We are accepting and expecting that the extended time abroad and the prospect of preparing our own meals will lead to more work and inconvenience on this score. On the other hand, we hold out hope of being surprised, as we were in Bangkok. Our hotel had been built with a second plumbing system that supplied potable water to a tap in our room.

Recently I was reading aloud Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje to Kris. This is a very well written story by one of Sri Lanka’s most famous authors writing in English. It is a disturbing, fictional, story about the horrors of civil war but an excellent mystery nonetheless. There is a scene in the story where the protagonists visit a brilliant but blind archeologist who has retired to live out his days in an obscure ancient site. He is taken care of by a family member, a young woman. During the protagonists visit, which spans one night, the young woman prepares to shave the blind man, starting by boiling water.

A small light goes on in my mind. If the tap water has microbes in it, then you probably do not want to use a razor to shave unless you first purify the water because shaving with a razor has a high probability of creating an open wound. Wanting to keep such tasks to a minimum, I researched online and then purchased locally a battery powered (devices with motors need more than just transformers to make them work properly with Sri Lanka’s 220V electrical system) electric shaver, a Braun PocketGo 370. It cost only $14. I have been using it for two weeks now and it seems to work like a charm.

This is one of the first, if small, habit changes I’ve made for this trip. As long as I can remember, I have shaved with a disposable razor. Now I know that I have been shaving longer than disposable razors have existed, but, for the life of me, I can not recall what I used before I used disposable razors. I am pretty sure that it was not an electric shaver. I have a vague recollection of a stainless steel, replaceable blade shaver, the kind where you twist the handle to open, clam shell style, the chamber where the razor blade resided so you could swap the blade out. But this may be an early memory of my fascination with my father’s razor when I was a “little shaver.” The point is that it has been a long time since I had explicitly thought about shaving.

As I said, my new electric shaver works pretty well, but I find I am having great difficulty changing one aspect of my morning toilette. Electric shavers work best if the whiskers are dry, so one should shave first when using an electric shaver. Whereas, razors work best if the whiskers are softened up first, so it is best to shave after showering. But, excluding the first morning with the electric razor when I was actively thinking about it, I have not been able to remember to shave first! Fortunately, the electric shaver does at least an adequate job though I do forget.

Tim

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