Life's Like That

Friday, July 11, 2008

Loo-y tunes

Warning: Very long and revolting post ahead. Do not read if you have just had or are about to have a meal or if you are generally the delicate kinds who do not appreciate such descriptions.

Its 2.30 p.m on a Friday afternoon. I have just had a rather horrible lunch at Nandhini involving rice (which I suspect they cooked with soda) and SPICY accompaniments, and while my stomach feels like I set it on fire, I am also terrifically sleepy. I want it to be the weekend already. But anyways, I was thinking of the morning after effects of eating food cooked mainly in red chilly paste and that got me thinking about loos and then about my experience with them.

After graduation, I decided to do my Masters at the University of Hyderabad. Since the damn place was far removed from civilization, I had to live in the hostel. When I arrived in Hyderabad to pay my fees and start classes, for the first couple of days I stayed with Daddy at the ITC Kakatiya Hotel in 5 star luxury. And then I moved into the hostel! I very nearly burst into tears on seeing the loo that first day. First the description:

The hostel was divided into wings and each wing had 5 rooms and each room housed 2 girls. So 10 girls to one loo and one bathroom. The loo was about half the size of a telephone booth with no light and no flush. When you sat on the western style pot (or as in my case, perched precariously on it since the surface was black and one did not want to contract any skin ailments from it) your knees touched the door. As I said, it did not have a flush, a FILTHY half broken bucket was provided instead. The bathroom door could not be shut, one closed it and then a pushed this large moss covered rock with ones foot against it to keep it closed. And then one bathed. Taking care that no part of one’s exposed skin touched any surface other than the taps. Yes I wore rubber chappals to the bath. There was no question of going about barefoot anywhere in that hostel.

When I tearfully told my Dad about the loo conditions he started off about the loos in his hostel and the unsanitary habits of young men. He was confident that girls could never be half as dirty as boys. Well, Dad, now that I have recovered from the traumas associated with that loo, I BEG TO DIFFER. Let’s just say I quickly learnt to wait till my room mate (an extraordinary being) and ran a check; to decide if I wanted to risk it. Sometimes, I just didn’t go till I reached the city (our classes were held in the city) and then quickly visited Taj Banjara (I became somewhat of an expert in marching into 5 star hotels confidently, using the facilities and then marching out equally confidently.) Sometimes, unfortunately my extraordinary roomie was not around and I soon got used to the various amounts, colours and consistencies that greeted me. Over time I even got used to flushing other people’s messes away. To this day I’m not very troubled by a dirty loo, I have learnt to block it all out.

It was in Hyderabad that I discovered that the great wild outdoors is a cleaner place to go about answering Natures calls. No I did not go about squatting wherever I wanted…told you I visited Taj Banjara. But umm…HCU was a HUGE place with forests and lakes and peacocks and wild boar and very little in terms of recreation. So we would slip off to one of the lakes, hide behind some strategically placed rocks and umm….partake of some bottled and errr…rolled up “entertainment”. The rocks were far away from the hostels (that was the main point see) and of course overly “entertained” that we were, we couldn’t have walked back even if we wanted. So I learnt to go out in the open. Good thing I was quite “entertained”, sober I think I’d be too worried about snakes and scorpions and what not. We took turns. And I always made sure that RS went before me, so that if any slithery things were about they would attack her first. Heh. Maybe I wasn’t that drunk.

Thankfully I moved back home after some time and the loo situation naturally improved. I avoid train loos and such like. But then as I said, confronted with toilet atrocities I can pretty much block it all out. Ooh but I lived in Bombay for a while.

I hate Bombay. It’s the only city I have ever been to where people use main roads as their personal toilets. All the bloody time!!! Traveling by train? You will see some shitting on the tracks. Visiting the mall? In all likelihood there will be some people pottying nearby. I worked in Dadar. On Senapati Bapat Marg, just after where the flyover ended. Every morning when I walked to office from the station, I would see a row of people squatting on one side of the road. When it rained they would squat with umbrellas. The women covered their faces!!!! The men...well I tried not to look at any of them. But the point was that when it rained the water swirled right past them and their potty, past my feet into what I hope was a drain. I kept a bottle of Dettol soap at work, and washed my feet footwear and all the moment I reached office.

Bombay was also the place where I completely embarrassed myself. I was following a friends feet at the Marine Lines station (it was the only part of him that I could see…he was wearing terribly bright shoes) and when his feet walked up these white tiled stairs I naturally followed. My nostrils gave warning about the place I was walking into but my brains and legs didn’t seem to register. A second too late I looked up to see my friend staring at me aghast. A variety of short tall fat thin well dressed badly dressed balding hairy men were also staring at me, some amused, some embarrassed, some horrified. Some horrifically for me, had turned around to see me and in their excitement had forgotten to zip up. I didn’t run from the place. I said “Oh I’m terribly sorry, excuse me, please, continue” and walked out in a very dignified manner. My friend refused to go anywhere with me for a very long time. Sigh.

I have managed to make myself feel ill with all these memories. Gross it all was. Why I just wrote such a long post on something so disgusting I don’t know. As it is people hardly read this blog anymore. With this post, the 2 readers I have left will also abandon me. My next post will be much nicer and totally yuck free. Prrrrroommiiise.

15 Comments:

  • wow toilet woes are so common in india that they arent a woe no more.Ive seen in mumbai too-- ppl sqautting my the tracks early morning-- especially when our train used to pull into bombay and we all excitedly hung out of the windows waitin for a glimspe of the fun relative we were vising, only to be greeted with a row of butts of all colors-- and no im not describing any more.
    But ive noticed in Blore too-- the men pissing right left n centre-- makes me wanna carry a slingshot and thwack them frm afar..

    Ron hats off to u for survivin the hostel loo-- thanks goodness i neva had to face that. honestly why cant people keep a toilet clean.. ive become even more finicky now post US:(

    By Blogger Marina, at 3:20 AM  

  • It's disgusting (thats a compliment)- your vivid description of the loo scenario across the subcontinent (at least you have covered the important places). Do you realize? This piece of documentation is actually invaulable research to the government, if they ever, ever attempt to do something about it.

    If they do, Charge a PREMIUM for this.

    By Blogger Annapoorna R Shinu, at 12:03 AM  

  • Hi,

    I am Richa from SiliconIndia. I am also an avid blogger for a while now and participating actively in Indian blogosphere. I read your blog posting and found them very interesting and informative. We would love to see a copy of your blogs posted here, whenever you are posting it on blogger.com. Here are some of the benefits of posting your blogs here:

    We have a strong community of 500,000 Indian professionals
    Best blogs of 2008 to be published in a book "SiliconIndia bLoG PrinT"
    Best blog to be printed in SliconIndia & SmartTechie magazines each month
    Chance to be featured on homepage everyday


    We appreciate your community initiative here and in helping build a more powerful India! Also, if you have any ideas or want to volunteer to help for SiliconIndia, we would be more than excited to get your help. Pls mail me back at richa@siliconindia.com with your suggestions and feedback.

    Richa
    Blog Editor- SiliconIndia

    By Blogger Richa, at 12:12 AM  

  • This is just a trailer. I am sure there are plenty of stories out there that can be made into a gory movie. Anybody of kill bill in loo part 4

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:29 AM  

  • Gross! Hats off to u really for surviving sch an ordeal. I rememebr I didn't go to the Loo for 36 hours while travelling by The Delhi-kalka Mail that yr when Rajiv Gandhi was shot! I finally went at some 3am and rememeer couldn't eat for the next 7 days... I don't think I cld've survived anything like yr ordeal.

    By Blogger Priya, at 4:49 AM  

  • he he...he hah he...he he hah....the tales i have....he he hah

    By Blogger Soham Pablo, at 8:36 PM  

  • awwww!
    I cldnt help feeling sick honestly at the description but if uv lived in India then guess at some pt wev all experienced it..
    I am from bombay and have grown up watching people clean their asses in public!
    So well its an experience and am sure ur glad its over and uv got better life and loo now!

    By Blogger Ekta, at 6:44 PM  

  • Ron, may i request you to write a sequel to this blog about men and women painting India red with paan spits!

    Look forward to another amusing blog.

    they are not letting me write my name the way i write in here while leaving comments so here it is...

    bijoyyy

    By Blogger Vijay, at 8:36 AM  

  • Finally, a blogger who addresses the REAL issues in India Shining. Seriously. It's bad enough for men, I cringe when I think of the problems women face when they need to go.

    J.A.P.

    By Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock, at 12:29 AM  

  • i enjoyed reading this post!!!

    By Anonymous roushni, at 8:36 AM  

  • Well if you think people don't do that Bombay type thing in Bangalore, think again. Remember my last house? The raod from there to nandidurga road was flanked by this slum, and you can guess where the slum children 'went'. It was so bad I thought many times of distributing free newspapers so they could at least, you know, carry away the evidence.

    And just the other day -- bang in the middle of the road from Ulsoor towards Old Madras Road. One boy. Totally ruined my mood to watch Rock On.

    But guess who's mostly to blame? The guys who don't build enough loos, who else? One more reason to hate the govt.

    By Anonymous shrabonti, at 2:33 AM  

  • Hi, very nice post. I can understand everything you say...I was freaking out all the time whenever I travelled by train or went to a public loo in India...very disgusting...I wont blame the govt only..I feel that people must learn to keep them clean..that will make a lot of difference..now being in UK im so relieved of this ordeal...wherever I go it is just awesome...I dont need to worry about dirty loos..I always wish India to have the same clean environment because I love my homeland..I dream of a better and lovely India to live atleast for the future generations..thanks anyway for the post.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:05 PM  

  • Hey Ron,
    The bit where you say you became an expert in walking into 5 star hotels & using the loos.. reminded me the first time I walked into a place only to use the loo and walk out - it was pantaloons at gariahat (kolkata) when panaloons was relatively new! Well done to you for surviving your hostel loo (even more for skipping it till you got to the city!!).
    Btw..you have not lost any readers. Keep posting :)

    By Blogger Sumona, at 9:38 AM  

  • hehe. the gross part was followed up the funny part - that was gud. :D

    especially the "i'm sorry, please continue" part. wud've been roflmao if it werent for the fact that mgr's probably staring into my screen!

    By Blogger Prasanna, at 5:02 AM  

  • Ugh, gross, yet I went on reading! Felt sorry about HCU hostel loos--when I was there, it was relatively new, I guess, and it was reasonably clean.As for the great Indian outdoors, which is one big loo---I guess unless an alternative is provided, you can't do anything about it--maybe NGO's and the common man can take up the initiative, and shame the govt into doing something. Also about providing ST's to poor women.

    By Blogger LAK, at 7:16 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home