A Democratic Toilet

When I first started blogging I had no idea what I wanted to blog about or even much idea about what a blog was. My first posts had no photos and rambled on about this and that. This is one of them. I’ve added this photo and thought you might find this entertaining.

I can’t afford to be squeamish here in India when I go to the ladies room. Even that term doesn’t exist. If you ask for the ladies room no one will know what you want unless they’re U.S. ” returned” as it’s referred to  here. They speak plainly, much of their usage a remnant from the past. They don’t even use the word bathroom. For them, that is where one takes a bath. Here one asks for the toilet, no euphemisms please. I like this no nonsense approach. However, the range of toilets vary greatly.

Last night I took an overnight train in air conditioned class, which is the best that Indian Railways offers. As a long time traveler to India, the toilets come as no surprise. This time I tried to view them as if I had never been to India before. There are two toilet cabins at each end of every car. Only one is labeled, “western.” A western toilet, for those of you who never heard the expression before, is where one actually sits down on the seat. An Indian toilet is essentially some form of a hole where one squats over it.

Though one pays considerably more for AC class, the toilets are much to be desired. I avoid the Western toilet at all costs. They are always filthy. Indian men use them without ever lifting the seat so they are always wet and sometimes even smeared. Once while traveling in AC class, an older woman seated across from me showed me how she dealt with this problem as she suffered from arthritis and couldn’t squat. She cut out toilet seat covers from newspaper and carried them with her.

The squatters are a better, cleaner option, though if one has creaky knees it’s a true challenge. Most Indians don’t use toilet paper either. They consider it a filthy way to deal with one’s waste! They use water and their left hand. Consequently, the floor is always wet. I know to roll up my pants before I do anything. This may seem like a reason not to travel by train but it certainly doesn’t discourage me. It’s just part of the journey.

I have to include the winged toilets in this description. They are a disappearing breed and never to be found aboard Indian Railways. They are my favorite toilet seats. The toilet is like any other Western one: upright. It’s the seat that is noteworthy. I call it winged because one can sit on it and squat on it as well because it has an extension with ridges for one’s feet on the outer rim and it looks winged. Don’t expect to fly anywhere on it; it isn’t a magic toilet. It’s just a truly democratic toilet;  perfect for India-the world’s largest democracy.

W Winged Toilet

A Winged Toilet


About ninagrandiose

I am based in NYC but travel regularly to India and Mexico. Both of these countries feel like home. In India I scour the country in search of fabulous textiles to incorporate into my clothing designs. I sit back and let the ambiance and wonder of India seep into my consciousness so I can be inspired to write about what India is for me. I bring a limited number of people to India on exclusive and intimate tours of my favorite hangouts. In Mexico I take in the natural beauty that surrounds me and dance the night away. I constantly give thanks for all this and am pleased to share it all with you.
This entry was posted in humor, india, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Democratic Toilet

  1. ninagrandiose says:

    Reblogged this on Ninagrandiose's Blog.

  2. That is a fun toilet, catering to two worlds. I still mostly prefer squat toilets when travelling, for the same reasons you make.

    • ninagrandiose says:

      When there is no option, I often clean the seat myself! India comes up with a lot of creative solutions, even to toilets.

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