Friday, November 14, 2014

To Pee Or Not To Pee

With the Swatch Bharat Abhyaan going about in full swing, every now and then some or the other celebrity is spotted on the page 3 with the long handled broom. Since our magnificent PM is driving this initiative, just like him this move has a lot of charismatic coverage on both press and print. The huge hoardings, the informative advertisements on television and in movie theaters is surely going to bring about atleast some amount of necessary change. But still the average Indian mentality remains to keep the home spic and span but to do hell with the roads, public transport, washrooms, historic monuments, gardens etc. We all have witnessed peanut shells on the train floors, banana peels on footpaths, heaps of garbage on roadsides, un flushed littered public restrooms, X loves Y inscribed on the walls of historic monuments. Visit Qutub Minar and you will be a witness to half of love stories of Delhi and the small caves on sides will smell like piss. Don’t know what they were used for earlier but visitors have probably found a good sneaky place to pee in them.

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And let’s not get into the part of how our men attend the call of nature wherever they find place. Walls, bushes, highways just about anywhere. Moving traffic, dogs, cows, women nothing intimidates them. It is us women who are taught from childhood to control and be mature about everything, including the call of nature. Usually there are no public washrooms so on long distance travels you have to entirely rely on petrol pumps and roadside dhabbas or some really heavy bushy areas. I say this with experience, once on a road trip from Jammu to Delhi I was under siege of a severe bout of stomach infection. So the journey was prolonged by slow driving to spot prospective restaurants and havelis (Haveli is a popular chain of highway joints at Jalander, Karnal and Ambala. Designed and styled as to drown in Punjabi culture, they are a must visit for both intake and outtake) for me. Even if you are lucky to spot a surlabh shrochalay the smell flowing within the radius of 2 foot will make you forget the pressure you were experiencing and you will decide that teaching your bladder/intestines the art of control is probably a better idea.
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Let’s face it, we all have at one point or the other littered the roads, wrote on rupee notes, spat indecently. I have on many occasions done the same (except the spit part). But off late I try my best to store any trash in my bag and throw it only when I spot a dustbin. However I do have a bone to pick up with people who dirty the place around them for no apparent reason. Don’t flush after using the restroom. I would be mortified to leave a restroom dirty, knowing that someone is bound to use it just after me. And mind you, this is done by Zara wearing Esbeda carrying ladies and they show no sign of remorse even when you give them a look which says ~ you are disgusting. Then there is my roommate well educated and arrogant. After shower she leaves a bunch of hair in the drain which I absolutely loathe. But this time I though instread of using the usual direct confrontation I will try something different. So I removed the hair every time thinking that she will get the hint. She chose to ignore my good gesture and continued to dirty the washroom. She is leaving soon and I am not keeping my fingers crossed for any last minute miracles. If you ask me, her post graduate degree, the supposed hi-profile job or the branded clothes all go to vain when you don’t have the basic civic sense. It just makes you uneducated and crass. At least in my eyes.

Tata Consultancy Services, the IT giant has pledged Rs 100 crore on toilets for girls across schools in India as a part of PMs Clean India Initiative. Here’s hoping for more public (and cleaner) washrooms. As much as I miss shopping in local markets I am also thankful for malls and the restrooms in it. Without them shopping for long durations used to be nightmare. Not long ago the trio, popularly known as the gossip girls went hobnobbing in the SoBo. After a (very) hearty lunch, drinks and way too many caramel custards at the parsi café we set off to Crawford Market. The office friend previously mentioned here and here was accompanying and wanted to buy utensils. Someone had told her that apparently the utensils sold here are of best quality and cheap. So off we went utensil shopping.

Entering Crawford market we spot myriad of stuffs – belts, shoes, fruits, showpieces, bags, toys but not a single utensil in sight. This is June and monsoon is delayed so we are just aimlessly waking in the scorching sun. After few inquires a kind man tells us that the shop is near a distant tree. That tree is so far and the heat has affected my brain so hard that I find it difficult to judge whether it’s real or a mirage. Amidst the walk and shouting abuses at the utensil-lover-friend all of us feel the need to pee. Now this is old Mumbai we are in and there is no restaurant or café or restroom in site. The bisleri's we have been drinking to beat the heat aren't helping either. Plus the tree does not seem to get any nearer. We do spot a dhabba but the conservative looking men in there do not seem too thrilled with us, dressed in all fashionable finery. So we contemplate going to some house and requesting them to let us use their washroom but then decide against it. While walking we somehow stumble outside a temple and rejoice at the sight. We ask the watchman of the washroom status, he nods in agreement and we are like hallelujah!

We are let through some dark stairs into an alley with rooms full of saree clad women busy with their rosaries. The place is eerily quiet and little scary. Somehow we reach the restroom and lo and behold what do we spot! It’s more like an array of changing rooms. There is no drain, no hole but its smelly proving that it has been used before. Desperate and left with no other option we decide to go ahead and do the business. Even after scrubbing our feet with water and wet wipes we felt dirty. Just talking about it makes me wanna have a bath. After unsuccessfully trying to forget the dirty episode we finally made it to the tree and thank heavens the utensil shop. We also decide to forgive the utensil buying friend for making us walk 2km after she promises to feed us pomfret fry made on her newly bought aluminum tawa. Needless to say after that day she has never mentioned the pomfret fry. Ever.

We had a similar where-to-pee incident when on a trip to Alibaug and a trek to Bhimashakar. We had to find some heavy bushes and keep two girls out on watch for infiltrators. There is a reason girls avoid eating and drinking on long distance trips. Now you guys know how difficult it is for us girls. I am awaiting the day when we don’t have to fret about this and will have easy access to clean public restrooms. Till then we will drink less on outings, exercise bladder control and fully support & participate actively in Swatch Bharat Abhiyaan.

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Jai Ho! 


P.S The title of this post has been “inspired” from SATC Season 3 Episode 2.


  1. Hahahahha..... Soon u will get the pompret ...dear
    Enjoyable keep writing...

  2. The title should have been "an essay on the art and travails of peeing by an Indian woman". Entertaining :D

  3. I am also guilty of that for lack of toilets in Mumbai. The PM has come up with a good initiative and there is need not just to change our attitudes-the so-called educated as rightly pointed out-but also constructing toilets in the country. Time for India not to miss the chance. It's a tragedy that village folks have to walk long distances to relieve themselves.

  4. I know of the Vohra community in Muslims who would make public toilets from the interest they make on their savings. It will be a good initiative to start collecting funds especially in highly crowded cities...