World of India!: EtcEtc : Public toilets in India ... less said the better e

World of India!

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EtcEtc : Public toilets in India ... less said the better

The BBC has reported that an estimate 4 million people in the U.K are hit by toilet phobia- which can be defined as fear of going to public toilets. The true numbers are expected to be much more than the ones reported.

I have always found public toilets in Europe to be spotlessly clean. So I really cant understand fear of unclean public toilets there. My only complaint has been that mainland Europe can be a bit expensive to pursue what is a legitimate and natural line of activity, and therefore should logically be free. Many public toilets in Europe are maintained by private parties and charge anywhere from 20-30 cents a shot,which works out to Rs.15/-. No wonder so many people in U.K and Europe have got toilet phobia :)

In India of course its another story. I would avoid visiting a public toilet even if some one pays me to do it! So if anyone suffering from toilet phobia is thinking of taking a vacation or coming in here for a business trip, I would advise them to get their heads examined.Most public toilets in India, except the ones in five star hotels are filthy to the extreme. This is true even for normally well run and popular restaurants and many of the well known hotels, malls and cinema theatres. I often wonder why a proprietor who rakes in lakhs of rupees a day, cannot invest a few thousand rupees a month, in what is surely an important service to provide to their customers. We are way too tolerant with such commercial enterprises and I for one some times make it a point to talk to the person in charge and give him an earful for the state of the toilet. Not that it makes much of a difference to be honest. Our attitude, culturally, towards toilets has always been that since its a place that we visit once in a while and more importantly not in easy view of guests, customers or the public at large, it need not be cared for. That's why our drawing rooms are much better decorated than our other rooms, for instance, and the restaurant dining room would invite a spend of crores but the few thousand rupees required to maintain a toilet would be grudged for.

Is the filthy nature of our toilets the reason many of us simply prefer to 'Just do it' in the open? Not if you would read the recent newspaper and other reports which highlighted the fact that in Punjab and Haryana, although households have built toilets, they are seldom used and are many a times locked for the use of a potential guest, and that people still prefer the rush of cold air on their rumps, early in the morning. What is it with us? Yes, go closer to nature by all means, but this is surely too close for comfort?

The other problem is of course that if you need a toilet, filthy or not, its often 'dhundo dhundo re sajaana'. Our municipalities have come up with innovative solutions like huge water supply pipes being cut in half and erected on the sides of our roads with the a helpful sign indicating that it is to be used as a toilet. Many people use these monstrosities out of sheer helplessness.

After all if you gotta do it, you gotta do it, right?

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November 16, 2006 9:23 AM

While I agree with you that owners of theatres, malls have an obligation to keep it clean, I would also put the onus on the users of the public toilet. I have found messy toilets in swanky software companies in India. The users don't care to flush, clean up after they are done with their "job". So much for the co-relation between education and cultures. Atlest, dogs have the courtesy to cover up their mess after they are done! :)    



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