Architecture II – The Bathroom

On to a much earthier subject for today; with an appropriate warning that this entry is not for anyone eating lunch. 😛

When you enter an Indian bathroom –that is their take on a modern, western style bathroom, you notice a couple of oddities. Firstly, there may not be a bathtub. In fact, here may not even be an enclosed shower, but rather a part of the bathroom that can be curtained off. It is actually quite practical as the whole bathroom floor has a slight downward slope to the shower and you can hose down the whole bathroom floor if you want. It is all much easier to clean than a western bathtub or shower stall.

Where would you find such a hose you might ask… well right next to the toilet of course. There always seems to be a hose with a flip trigger right next to the toilet. Indians don’t traditionally use toilet paper and in fact hotels sometimes tell you not to flush toilet paper down as it can clog the pipes. Whatever they do with Lincoln log situations, I do not know and I’m not sure I want to know; though I’m pretty sure the kids would be fascinated and there is probably a profession of people who stand around all day, waiting to hande such situations. For this reason, the toilet paper roll (if available) is often in some ergonomically impoverished location (such as smack up against where the shower curtain meets the wall), almost as if the bathroom designer wants you to use the butt hose. This is not the kind of wimpy little hose jet that you see on American kitchen sinks either; it is a full bore industrial strength sprayer. Imagine for a moment that you are sitting on a toilet and you need to clean yourself. Now as you are sitting, it is the bottom side of you bottom that needs a good hosing; which naturally means the hose needs an upward angle. The kids tried this a couple of times; until we banned them from using the hose.

The Butt Hose

The Butt Hose

Now this hose carried over from the more traditional toilet. Most lower and middle class homes still have the traditional one and our house has one as well behind the kitchen. It amounts to a hole in the ground with footholds that you squat over. That’s right, you squat. You never squat with western toilets. Even in makeshift backcountry outhouses in wilderness areas of the Adirondacks, you sit on a wooden plank with a hole in it. Even in the more makeshift (read wall-less) outhouse that I encountered at a campsite in Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada, you sat. Sure, there was something gigantic (a bear? a moose?) moving in the brush less than a hundred feet away. Sure you had a flashlight in one hand, TP in the other and a gigantic Bowie knife between your teeth; but you sat by golly! Traditionally, Indians have found western style toilets uncomfortable.

I’m still puzzled as to how you avoid brown slurry wall painting disasters in traditional bathrooms.

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3 responses to “Architecture II – The Bathroom

  1. Your description of an Indian toilet is very similar and we were quite amused when we visited the asian sub continent on a family holiday a few years ago.

  2. Dave, every time I read your blog, I crack up laughing because every now and then, I run into the same situation in Italy. Two months ago, while I was still pregnant, we went to an amusement park. Of course pregnant women have to use the lavatory almost every five minutes. Upon entering the park, we had to find a bathroom and Bang! What was there? A big round hole in the ground. We ended up walking to the other side of the park to find a more modern toilet. Oh by the way Dave, as far as the staring is concerned. Imagine me a golden brown skinned black woman giving birth to a blond haired blue eyed baby. My husband is Italian but my child ended up looking very similar to my father who is blond and blue eyed. Yesterday, we had a lady run up a hill behind us because she wanted to see the baby. I also will never forget my roommate in the hospital who could not help but say, “your baby isa very whiteah.” You talk about laughs, I am storing them up for my grandchildren.

  3. Pingback: On bathrooms « Living Questions

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