I recently got an idea for a post while reading a blog on Diary of a White Indian Housewife.
It was about the water shortage in Mumbai.
Because my brain is convoluted and has a tendency of starting on one subject and then ending on an entirely different one…I somehow went from water shortage to the uses of the typical Indian Toilet.
Things that confused me.
Like the water bucket.
You see, I no longer needed to ask about the hole in the floor or the sprayer because I had already learned allllllllll about those when I actually traveled to India.
Allow me to tell you a story.
Once upon a time…..in a land far far away…..a young girl arrived at Mumbai International Airport with an intense need to pee.
Seriously…I had to go so badly! But, because of the way the Mumbai airport is set up, I had to take a bus from the International Airport to the local one in order to catch my commuter flight to Pune. So, being the smart little girl I was, I waited till I had collected my bags, gone through security, found the bus, and rode over to the local Mumbai Airport. I figured I would find the ladies room there and go before taking my commuter flight.
Once I arrived at the local airport, I got checked in and had my luggage taken. I meandered over to the waiting area near my gate. There I found a wonderful little chai station where I could get a refreshingly hot chai to go with the frigid air in the terminal (which went with the 110 hot and humid air outside of the terminal). I then begin my adventure in search of a bathroom.
I finally found one, and upon entering was delighted to see maroon and black tiles and gold faucets. It was probably the most beautiful bathroom that I had ever seen, especially for an airport. The stalls with doors were to the right and I headed that way. Each door was a heavy mahogany with cunning little gold handles. I opened the first door to my left and …..
Stopped dead in my tracks.
I peered out, looking around for an attendant.
Then I thought, perhaps there was construction going on and they forgot to section off this particular stall. So I went to the next….and the next….and the next. I finally went back out and found the lady attendant.
“Excuse me Miss?”
“Where is the nearest working bathroom?”
“You are in it.”
“No Ma’am, I mean one with working toilets?”
“Yes, you are in it.”
“But….ah….you see, I think someone forgot to re-install your toilets.”
To which she laughed loudly and herded me into the nearest stall. There she said that this hole in the floor WAS the toilet and to be sure to remove my pants. Then she walked out laughing.
Excuse me? Remove my pants to PEE? Put my bare feet on the bare tile in a public bathroom???? Aim for a hole in the FLOOR?
I stood there, wondering why I had never encountered this during all of my pre-trip researches on line. I wondered why none of my Indian friends had warned me when they had taken much delight in scaring me about the water and street side food stands.
So, I was faced with a very hard decision. Either strip down and attempt to squat daintily over this lovely hole in the floor or chicken out….hold it and wait.
I chickened out.
I held it and waited for my flight and as soon as we were on board I begged the stewardess to please OH PLEASE let me use the bathroom in the airplane BEFORE taking off.
She laughed, said “Yeah sure, fine, here we have the western seat.” And pointed me in the right direction. I did the pee pee dance all the way down the aisle. BLISS!
I was there for a month, I stayed in a ‘westernized’ hotel with lots of small rolls of TP, a shower with a glass door and some wicked looking sprayer thing next to the toilet that I thought was used for cleaning up the bathroom.
I believed this about the sprayer until one day I asked my maid what it was for. She didn’t speak very much English, so she went to get my room steward. Who was a man. An Indian man. Whom I had to ask…
“What’s the sprayer next to the toilet for?”
To which he turned beet red and giggled the entire time he was explaining it to me.
I then spent the next three days happily spraying the walls, the toilet, the glass shower door, the mirror over the sink, my spare towels and every stitch of clothing I had on while trying to teach myself how to use that sprayer.
By the end of the month, I did prefer it although I never got over that wet feeling and would still dry off with TP or a towel afterwards. LOL
I finally learned all about the mysterious Indian Bathroom Water Bucket on Diary of a White Indian Housewife.
I had asked Bear about it in the past and he would tell me the buckets were for bathing but never could explain to me precisely HOW they were used to get all the soap off. Perhaps it’s because we have such hard water/soft water and clingy soaps and shampoo’s that it takes an hour of hard spraying water to get it all off…and maybe that won’t be an issue in India?
I was concerned about getting water everywhere when taking a shower in our bathroom in India as the pictures he sends to me, I do not see where the shower ends and the rest of the bathroom begins. He didn’t seem to think we needed a curtain either. The ‘water everywhere’ concern was that…well here in the US we mostly have linoleum floors or carpeted floors (sometimes treated hardwood) in the bathrooms. Rarely does an average family have the money to have real tiles put down in the bathroom. So if water builds, the linoleum will get wrecked. It starts to curl and peel and get nasty mold underneath. Also, the water on the ceiling and walls, if it’s not cleaned properly will get moldy. I guess it never struck me that the climate and conditions will be different there. There my bathroom is entirely covered in good tiles and there is a window in each bathroom. The heat will help dry everything…and there is always squeegee’s.
I never did learn how to use the Indian style toilet (ie: hole in the floor). However, do not be sad for me…Bear has happily told me numerous times that while our master bathroom does have a western toilet, the guest bathroom is Indian in style. I can practice in there all I want. Or rather, I believe he has plans of making a break for the western bathroom and locking himself in there whenever I have to go just to FORCE me to learn to use the Indian one.
I really love that man.
PS: These links explain, in very explicit detail that frightened my western sensibilities horribly, exactly how to use an Indian style toilet.
PSS: Thanks to GoriGirl for the story about the King Cobra…in the house…which helped increase my fear of snakes in the toilet (not to be confused with snakes on the plane of which I always have a phobia). Here…this is a good representation of my worst fear.