Yarn It! Society

Your toilet-training guide for when you travel abroad

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar  

Who has the right to talk about toilet manners? We’d like to see anyone from those countries where they pat their bottoms with paper, go out and navigate the entire process in a trench in the fields, with just one lota to assist.

Anyway, here are some basic rules for when you go visiting those places where toilets smell better than kitchens. It’s tough enough to find one, when you can’t even follow the right smell.

In many cold countries, people are rather unhelpful. If you ask someone, ‘Bathroom?’ they will point upwards. Then you look up and realise — these airports and malls have little signs stuck high up with cookie-looking men and women. They show arrows for the restrooms. Follow the arrow and you will reach a pub. Follow the arrow again and you’ll exit into the parking lot. Those signs are meant to confuse you. Somehow, after roaming around three floors over four times, you will stumble across the loo.

Most foreign countries love queues. They queue for toilets too. You, who have dashed in when your bladder is at dam-gate-bursting levels, now need to find a way to jump this queue. ‘I’m pregnant,’ always works (unless you’re male, but nowadays, even that may work). The queue kindly parts to allow you in. Suddenly, a whole lot of women are also inspired to turn pregnant. It works better than fertility clinics.

When inside the cubicle, you must never sit on the seat. God knows whose bottom has defiled it. You must instead: a) Bend over and hope your quivering thigh muscles don’t give way until you’re done or b) Climb up on that seat and balance up there, like a roosting hen. Remember in this case to leave your shoes on the floor, so anyone peeping from the bottom doesn’t know you’ve climbed up.

These toilets have strange gadgets on the wall. You will break at least one handle trying to turn on the water. Let me tell you straight off — there is no water! Only paper dispensers of all sorts. One dispenses strange uterus-shaped papers which are supposed to be toilet seat covers. Imagine! Pack a few into your handbag to impress guests back home.

Now, if you have come in with another female friend (since loo urges always happen in twos at least), yell over the cubicles (why else would they have half-doors?) to ask if she is carrying a bottle of water.

‘Do you have water, Dinky?’

‘To drink?’

‘Well, you know.’

‘Wait till we’re outside to drink, no?’

‘I cannot wait till outside. I need to drink now.’

You somehow manage to survive the waterless ordeal. Feeling like you’ve given a dry birth, you open your cubicle door to find a queue of curious women waiting outside. You realise you’ve left the cubicle like a tornado-hit zone, and so immediately you must pass on the blame. Grimace: ‘How dirty people are! Look at how this toilet was. I had to close my eyes and go in.’

When you emerge into the handwash area, it does not work! It is true — the water shortage crisis is hitting the world even as we speak. You slyly look at the woman beside you who is waving her hand at the tap. It works! You must then pull out wad after wad of tissue (after all, it’s free!) and stuff some more into your bag. Who knows what life-threatening situation might present itself which demands toilet paper.

Congratulations, you are now qualified enough to loo-it anywhere in the world. Which is way better than those who can’t even use a lota.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 1:50:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/toilet-training-guide-for-your-travel-abroad/article23615408.ece

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