Thursday, December 28, 2006

Loos of the World

A rather smelly topic but I thought this was something I could write about in great detail!

My first experience with an unconventional loo was when I was about 10 years old. I went to Lucknow to our ancestral house along with my parents and since the infrastructure in he old ancestral home was inadequate, we put up in a charming old world hotel called Carlton and spent the day at the ancestral house where my Father's sisters lived. Calls of nature can hardly be ignored for a long time and the moment came when I just had to use the loo. My Pishima (Father's sister) showed me the way to this rather dark looking entrance, a 60 watt bulb was switched on for my benefit. On the left hand side there was a bath area and on the right hand side there were toilets. I entered the toilet expecting to find a white commode but instead I found a set of steps, on climbing the four steps I found a hole. Pishima instructed me to use the err... hole from outside. Just below the hole I heard a scuffling sort of a noise and screamed on top of my voice and yelled to Pishima that there is someone down there. She said it was nothing and said she would wait outside. When I emerged she told me that the noise I heard was nothing but the pigs that are let loose in these interconnected tunnels and help in cleaning up the mess. Well I guess that was a stroke of human genius applied to sewage cleaning!

My next experience with unhelpful loos was in Schipol airport in Amsterdam many years back. They may have smartened up by now. I entered this spotlessly clean all white loo and wondered where the flush is, there was absolutely no chain, button, switch or lever in sight. There was a tile with a red dot a cryptic statement 'Please Approach' written in small letters. I gingerly pressed this tile and whoosh came a jet of water!

The next worrisome flushing experience was in Germany or somewhere between Germany and Denmark when we were cruising in a ship. Alcohol is duty free it seems on such cruises so the ladies and gents drank with gusto and as a consequence the loos were rather crowded. On my visit to these cramped chambers I again started my desperate hunt for the flush lever. After about seven minutes of a detailed examination of every nook and cranny I found this almost invisible switch built into the cistern which yielded correct results.

My experience in a WC in a Canada airport is also worth mentioning here. After being accustomed to hidden switches, tiles, levers and chains I was expecting something along those lines but what I found left me pleasantly surprised yet again. When I did not find any known flushing device, I started hunting for the unknown and came upon a foot pedal which I pressed and got the result I wanted. The good thing about foot pedals is that one does not have to use hands!

Lastly I must mention the antique loo experiences in France. It seems that the plumbing was at least 100 years old in the hotel where I put up. One could hear the water gurgling through the pipes from miles away when the loo was flushed. Once I got a call in the middle of the night and a very angry lady was saying something in French and it seemed she was complaining about the water flowing into the cistern which made an awful lot of noise and disturbed her sleep - her room was right next to my loo. I think she should have complained at the hotel reception! At another hotel in Paris I found the much written about French device called the bidet. All my story book imaginations came to life, gold fittings, many fine soaps, a radiator, warm towels on a rail, a porcelain tub .... Bliss!

I am sure I haven't covered all aspects of strange loos - still have many more countries to visit and lots more to experience!

11 comments:

BlondebutBright said...

Great stories! They made me laugh out loud. My most valuable learning experience was when I mastered the art of squatting. It was a necessity in Indonesia (I experienced "the hole") and I've been grateful for that skill ever since.

Anonymous said...

Very good stories!! To me, the "best" experience has always been in 2nd class compartments - I dont think anyone who goes thru that will ever crib about loos anywhere in the world - especially if you have travelled a long distance!!

Bishu said...

Quite An Il-loo-minating post :)

peu said...

i strongly suggest that you marry an architect.you'll work as a grt source of inspiration...
hehe(u got me rolling)
gud wrk

Anonymous said...

ur literary power is wonderful/exemplary.whatever u hv written so far,r very good reading material. ur observation about ur surroundings r superb.keep it up.

ichatteralot said...

@BbB: Ah yes holes are a feature in south Asia I think and its always useful to know how to use it!

@Anonymous1: Ever tried a jain ashram in Bihar at the foothills of Pareshnath? I think that was the 'best' and I was reallt desperate!

@Bishu: I like your word :)

@Peu: Late advise my dear - I am married to a salesman already! Thanks...

@Anonymous2: Thank you!

Kausum said...

In Japan and SIngapore 20% stalls in restrooms are in Indian style rather than in western style. :) Are you surprised.

ichatteralot said...

@Kausum: I definitely am! Never been to that part of the world yet - planning to go for a holiday this summer...

austere said...

:)
No NSS or NCC type "field experience" yet?

ichatteralot said...

@Austere: One in the forests of Sariska where a tiger could have appeared any moment. Oh my - that was the scariest experience ever!

lemonade said...

this is awesome stuff..!! lol..the first set of loo experiences that i have ever read on a blog..!! :)