Adventure with Indian Toilets

Indian Style Toilet

Indian Style Toilet

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?”
“Yes?”
“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.

//
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 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 on 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?”
“Yes?”
“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, how exactly to use an Indian style toilet.  http://www.phantomnetwork.com/India/toilet.html

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12 thoughts on “Adventure with Indian Toilets

    • That article was so fascinating…I was hoping to see representations of the art work though! Still an excellent piece! Thank you!

  1. I never liked the wet feeling either. Yuck.

    I found out these things the reverse way, but asking M one day “Why does your roommate’s bathroom always have muddy footprints on the toilet seat?”

    I thought he must’ve been changing the lightbulbs. Every day, I guess….

    • 🙂 I too saw that once or twice at one of the other contractor apartments. I was afraid to ask…probably should have since I used that bathroom a few times after seeing that! LOL

      PS: Not when the seat had muddy footprints okkkkkkkkkkk? 🙂

  2. Ha ha ha! 🙂 Well, you have given me motivation to write more about India! Now I will keep you in mind and write more about what I miss in India – may be roadside food will be the next thing I am going to write about – it is a taste that forms a whole new octave in the orchestra of Indian spices.

  3. Aurora.. you are my hero!!!

    I’m in NO way embarrassed or shy when it comes to releasing water.. but over a hole?
    With my aim? I think I would need more then a shower.. I’d need a fire hose!!! LOL!!

    FYI .. train stations in the littler towns in Italy have the same thing.. although not nearly as nice as the one pictured on your post. Basically.. it’s just a hole in the floor. WITHOUT a shower head or water bucket!! Shared by both men and woman. So imagine my germo-phobe.. meticulously clean aunt :: who always smelled like Pledge :: going into one of these on her very first trip to the motherland.

    It’s been .. oh.. around 40 years now and I don’t think she’s release water since!!

  4. Awwwwww! Me not laughing at you, me laughing around you! 😛
    And THANK YOU SO MUCH for blogrolling me! I truly truly appreciate it!
    That incident you described to me reminded me of a movie I had once seen, about a village boy going to the UK to be someone’s cook. In the flight, he went to attends nature call and after a while, he peeped out of the restroom door to ask a stewardess where the “lota” was. “Lota” in Indian slang is a mug for the same purpose of a sprayer. 😉
    When she pointed at the toilet paper, he went “Oh god oh god! How can you utter such blasphemy! We Indians consider paper as an embodiment of the Goddess of Education, and you are telling me to wipe my… oh God Oh God”
    That dialogue had me laughing in splits!
    Btw, this movie’s name is “Ramji Londonwaala”. If you like cutesy movies, this is definitely one of them!

    • LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Oh my gosh, I could picture that scene in my head and even with my poor and pathetic directing skills it’s hilarious!

      I’m going to google it after Bear gets here and we’ll watch it! Thanks for the suggestion!

      And most welcome for the blogroll! I LOVE reading yours…it’s wonderful because you give stories of living in India. You’re writing style is fluid and keeps the reader interested!

      I crave story’s of India…I’m excited to learn as much about my future country as I can. Plus, I’ll be forewarned and not caught off-guard with holes in the floor!

  5. I feel sorry for you (but I am laughing so hard!)
    Did you know you are an awesome writer? 🙂
    I had an opposite transition from India to the US and realized how clean and dry toilets can be maintained! This time when I went back home I sheepishly asked my mom if she could get me toilet paper from the store and oh boy, there was laughter!
    (The snakes in the toilet thing TOTALLY freaked me out. Aaaah… *shudders*)

    • Yes…laugh laugh laaaaaugh at the poor lahdki! 😛

      Thank you for the compliment on my writing! That just totally made my day!

      I remember the first time a friend of mine came here, she took me into the ladies room and asked me to tell her how we get “clean”. As I had already been to India by that point, I knew she was looking for the sprayer. So I showed her where the TP was…as our ladies room dispenser’s are designer and tend to hide the TP. She had this truly horrified look on her face when I showed that to her!

  6. Yeah, Baba had to catch the cobra by hand to get it out of the house… but that was the only time that occurred in all of the years Aditya has lived in India. 😉

    Using an Indian-style toilet isn’t any more difficult than going in the woods – and at least in India you don’t have to dig a hole before going. The only thing I refuse to do is go on a train while the train is in motion – that sort of situation will end BADLY.

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