Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Diaries Down Under - Part 5!!!

Statutory Warning - The post contains hard dose of toilet humor. Please read it at your own peril. I mean it.

“Dharma means vishwas (belief).Sanitation is our religion and human development is thought of as karma and spirituality. I believe that whatever we are doing in this birth will be paid for in the next. What we all are going through is of the past birth. In our organization we have a system of a morning prayer.”


- Dr. Bindheshwar Pathak (Founder of Sulabh Toilet, a low cost sanitation system, and also Padma Bhushan honrary)

One of the many things I have liked about Australia, their respect for others’ privacy is one of them. I like the way they have laid down several privacy laws, just heard about them though, and how ferociously they implement them. I like the way they respect others’ privacy. Even government puts lot of emphasis on respecting and protecting individual privacy. It is quite unlike India where all your personal details – DOB, mother’s maiden name, PAN card number, Passport number are as secret as Suresh Raina’s potency against short pitch bowling.

I was almost completely smitten by this phenomenon until I saw something quite strange when it comes to protecting privacy.

I saw the washrooms.

And I was surprised by the lack of privacy one gets in them.

All those who have been lucky enough to witness public toilets in India, I am referring to males as I have never seen how a female washrooms look from inside, they would understand what I am trying to say here. All the urinals are separated by small walls made of stone/concrete/wood or any other material which stands the test of time and splash of water. But it does give you a feel of “your own space”.

In Australia, nothing separates urinals, absolutely nothing. Once you enter the washrooms to relieve yourself, you are on your own, on your very own. There is no comfort of privacy.
In a country which tries so hard to protect individual privacy, there is no privacy in a place one needs it most.

Even the Loos are separated with walls small enough to cover the act. One can see his neighbors 30% of body. A look of your neighbors legs can tell you the state of his digestion system.

If he is on his heels, he is suffering from constipation.

If he is on his toes, it must be lose motions.

If you cannot see his legs, chances are high that your neighbor is an Indian. A true Indian.
While I am a fan of “one must wash off his sins and not wipe them off” theory, this does put me in a difficult situation. It is nowhere but home I get a chance to practice the theory I am a fan of because that’s where I have made arrangements.

But one needs to deviate from his principles sometimes. Even Yudhishthir had to do it.

So today when I felt the need, I mustered all the courage to overcome this cultural stigma of mine and imbibe the local culture. My friends keep accusing me of being too rigid in my lifestyle – I hardly try new food or restaurants. Hence I decided to make a start today.

So there I was, in my Karmabhoomi, responding to the Karma of dinner and lunch.

Being an illiterate in this manner of responding to Karma, I picked up the toilet roll to tackle any contingency. More than anything else, I wanted to check the softness for obvious reasons.

I don’t boast of a strong grip but it isn't a weak one as well. Or maybe it was something else but somehow; I managed to drop the toilet roll.

Toll being a roll, rolled down to neighboring toilet. All I had in the hand was one end of the paper in the roll. I frantically started to pull it back.

Toilet rolls can be like an elusive dream - more you strive for it, more it eludes you. This is what my learning from this incident was. More I tried to pull it, further away it went. 


Like in Mahabharata, Dropadi's magical Saari kept eluding Dushashan no matter how hard he tried to pull it off and do what his brother had ordered him to do, I was like Dushashan for a moment. More I tried to pull it off, more elusive it became. 


If not for the kindhearted performing in the neighboring toilet, I don’t know what I would have done. His human heart was kind enough to make him kick the roll towards me. I picked it up, placed it at its place and left in embarrassment. Nature would have seen a miss-call in his cell if it tried my number.


Alas, I still remain untouched by this part of foreign culture.

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