Friday, July 27, 2012

When you are told to bring toilet paper to India . . . do it!

It seems that much of Indian life is lived in public alongside the road. Just about every item imaginable is sold by roadside vendors: food, religious supplies, tires, motorcycle helmets . . . I saw men getting haircuts sitting in a roadside barber chair.

As we rode in the bus at night, there were many men congregated alongside the roads. Rarely did I see any women. I am thinking the men use this as a time to hang out with their friends. In the city, I saw a lot of men laying on the ground sleeping both at night and in the daytime.

It appears to be socially ok for men to urinate in public along the roadside, as long as they turn away from the road to do it.

The women’s bathrooms were also of interest to me. In places like the mall or airport there were toilets with seats and toilet paper much like here. They also have what looks like a hose that in the U.S. might be attached to a kitchen sink.

I saw this for the first time at the airport. (I’d been told that sometimes the international airports offer showers. Being the good little blonde that I am, I thought, “How nice, the Delhi airport offers a shower right in the bathroom stall.”)
Well, as we traveled and as I saw many more bathrooms, I had to refine my ‘shower theory’. Many bathrooms didn’t have a toilet to sit on. There was a hole to squat over, no toilet paper to wipe with, and one of those hoses. (In most bathrooms, if you  happened to bring-your-own toilet paper, you were expected to deposit the used paper in a waste basket and not in the toilet itself.)

What I can’t figure out is how a lady can use that sprayer without getting herself and her clothes wet. I guess that will have to be a question I will need to find the answer for in the future.

Here is one final piece of advice for traveling. Many of our team members expressed some distress about being constipated due inactivity, dietary changes and not being able to relax. One of the team members did suggest a cure for constipation that none of us wanted to try. She said suggested taking another ride through the mountains might have a laxative effect especially if we did it in the day time so we could see how close we were to the edge.

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