Indian Abomination - Toilet

There are over a billion people in India, but only a fraction of them have even the so called Indian toilets. When nature calls, most people living in villages meet their needs near their homes, in cities by ditches by their house, or at waste lands next to roads. You see this every day. In India, toilet hygiene and toilet-etiquette in general are practically unknown. Common knowledge about how things should be made better doesn't exist. Even women wearing shiny sarees go to appalling toilets, and it's hard to understand how they manage to get out of there without getting themselves dirty. Where do they put their purses or scarves, when there are no hooks on the bathroom walls, no nails and sometimes not even a door handle, and the floor is wet!




To European, the Indian toilets are pretty horrible experience. They are very unclean, wet and dark stalls, with no running water even if there are taps. If the toilet can be flushed with water, might the whole system be broken and the water tank be leaning to the wall.


Homes, shops, offices and in public restrooms in cities usually have so called floor toilets. This means an oval shaped porcelain ring, with places for feet and a hole at the other end. Someone with custom to western pot doesn't even know which way to place yourself on it.


In all toilets there are usually a tap, and underneath it, for example, an old jar for washing and flushing. In public toilets in train and bus stations might only have a tilted floor with a little ditch next to a wall and a small hole leading outside. There is usually a very dirty jar for throwing water at the floor to "flush", which takes everything out from that little hole.

Sometimes there is one open section for women also. Not all toilets have lighting, and the door cannot be closed from the inside, not even with a hook. Joyous and curious faces peek from the slots. Floors are almost always wet, because toilet paper is not being used; only water is used for washing up. Sometimes there is no water, and not even a place to wash hands. Or then the water is outside in an open container, with dead insects floating on the surface. After washing up, one doesn't need to dry up, because the sun and warm breeze takes care of that. In winter time is not so nice, because one has to wear wet pants after washing up. Indian women often dry their hands to their tunics or scarfs.


We teach toilet hygiene in the school. At the rooftop terrace of our school there is a traditional Indian porcelain toilet, which the kids use. All of our students are taught how the act hygienically in the toilet. They can all go to the toilet independently, and wash their hands afterwards. Girls first ask their teacher nicely for permission to go to the toilet.


Pirkko Hellstén