Rwanda: Toilet Paper Hoarding

One year on and I have to confess to a new addiction I have picked up – toilet paper. It isn’t that I have a great affection for the production or even a favorite kind, but long bus rides and Indian trains have got me hankering to have some on me at all times. There is a roll in my backpack and at least one folded wad of squares in each of my pant pockets. Every time I do a laundry a foaming mass of white paper comes to the top as a long hidden stockpile is suddenly rediscovered.

Amazingly, even as the crisp white paper was permeating its way deeper into my pockets and bags, I didn’t realize I had a problem until this morning. As I packed up to leave I looked fondly at the mostly used roll in my hostel bathroom. I reached out to grab it and thought, “wait a second, I am heading home to a land of prolific toilet paper use. I don’t need you any more.” And then I walked over to my bag and took stock of what I had acquired. The plentiful rolls in my backpack were removed and set aside for the next traveler to come through my room (another closet toilet paper hoarder, no doubt!). My pockets were emptied and the folded mass left on the cabinet.

I turned to leave, and as if a greater power had control over my arm, I quickly snatched up one wad of several squares and hid it in my back pocket. “Just in case,” I thought. “I’m not home yet.”


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