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Practical (but taboo) question on Indian toilets

If, like my mother, you have already found yourself in a bathroom/toilet/loo/water closet without paper (OH. MY. GOD.) and that you have wondered how the hell you would get yourself out of this situation, this note is for you...

India,toilet,paper,water,dryingIf you have traveled in India, (like my mother), you will have realized that women and men use water (and not paper) to clean themselves after action. I also wrote quite a bit on the topic (see these posts). So far so good. My mother understands. But what bothers her is: how do they dry themselves? Because – and I hope that all the girls are aware about it – if you don’t dry your ‘thing’, it is guaranteed that it will be nicely smelly in the evening!

I confess I had also asked myself the question without looking for an answer though since when I had found myself in this situation – with water but no paper – I had just grabbed the first piece of cloth I could find on myself and assumed that Indian women would do the same, maybe with their dupatta (the scarf they use a little bit for everything, from hiding their breast to cleaning a baby’s running nose) or their sari.

When I asked the question to a colleague, she looked completely taken aback – like this had never happened to her – and after thinking for some time, she explained to me that women use the back of their hand to dry their daisy.

I sought confirmation from my nanny, who was not surprised nor hesitant: it’s the sari which is used to dry!

So now you sleep less stupid tonight if you have read this through ;)

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10/03/2016 | Permalink

Helen's pearls 1

I love the sense of humor of the Baby Samurai’s nanny.

For example at 6 o'clock this morning:

  • Her: Madam the lawn of the park is all wet, dogs must have peed everywhere.
  • Me: Helen...
  • Her: Oh! So it is dew then?
  • Me: …

In addition to putting me in a good mood in the morning, sometimes she makes me laugh so much.

That day I was in the pool, and Baby on the deck.

  • She: “Baby, go pee on the lawn”. Then to me: “I’ve been teaching him to pee on the lawn, instead of the pool deck. But he doesn’t really know how to make the difference between peeing and pooping”. To him: “Baby, hey you, since you seem to be pushing, trying to aim well and make caca on the floorboard so that it does not get stuck between two boards!
  • Me: What will my parents think when they come visit and my son goes on the lawn to shit!
  • Her: Don’t worry, we will tell them that the train station is too far...

 india,toilet,public defecation,shitting in public(If you don’t get the ‘joke’, the surroundings of train stations and highways as well as beaches, at least in Mumbai, are usually packed with jolly shitters in the morning.) And she said it, not me!

By the way, one day we had a debate. As she had mentioned with quite some despite all these “dirty people” who defecate in the street, I tried to defend them by pleading that more than half of the population still does not have access to toilets (source). But her, daughter of the slums herself, is convinced that it is their choice: they are the ones who don’t want to use toilets and prefer to have company while pooing.

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05/23/2016 | Permalink

Everybody not be Michael Jordan...

Simply baffling...

India,toilets,loo,toilet paper


Sometimes I wonder how the connections in some brains are working?


What does this picture tell us? 

  1. Some Indians also use toilet paper (and not only the spray hose), probably to dry their ass.

  2. Some Indians do not throw paper in the toilet – which is the case in many countries where the piping is not adapted to these new ‘methods’ (wiping ones bottom with toilet paper).

  3. Some Indians do not know how to aim or do not understand the opening mechanism of a trash bin.

  4. Some Indians do not put themselves in the shoes of the cleaning lady and do not have much respect for her. 

Seriously, this trash bin after the visit of auditors / consultants leaves me speechless...


PS: Note that no, the trash can was not full.


More about toilets in India here.

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08/24/2015 | Permalink

Some tantrism, in an unexpected place!

What do you think this is??


Unbelievable but yes, it is a toilet sign.

A representation inspired by Hinduism in an occidental restaurant in Mumbai (Salt Water)?

Yeah, I immediately pictured a lingam (a phallus, one of Shiva’s representations) and a yoni (a vagina) – Ok I need a break from all this!


Still, I think this toilet ps are borderline…

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10/22/2010 | Permalink

Arachnid story

First pee break in Assam.

First encounter…




This lady was not moving so I decided to pee anyways – but askew, in order to watch her.


Two days later, on Majuli island.

We are exploring the monastery guest house: we have to pump the water and the loo is Indian.  


So be it, we can accommodate! I go for a pee. Shit, I forgot to bring toilet paper. Well, it’s not like it is the first time, I will use water… I go to reach for the bucket and then, a huge spider jumps. And here I am, with my pants on my ankle, a monster standing between the door and me. I managed to get out and elected a new toilet: nature!!

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05/12/2011 | Permalink

The chawls of Mumbai

India,Mumbai,Bombay,chawls,slum,rent,frozen rent agreement

Chawls are typical dwellings in Mumbai, built in the 19th and 20th centuries (especially between 1920 and 1956) by landlords and industrialists to accomodate immigrant labor.

 Chawls are “buildings with one room or two room units of not more than two hundred square feet attached by a common corridor with shared toilets on each floor”. Living conditions are quite sordid in the chawls, most of which being about

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04/02/2014 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Indian loos for dummies!

India,loo,Indian loo,toilets

Quite interesting this poster in the bathroom of German Bakery in Kovalam (Kerala), I even learnt a few tips! Maybe one day I will be able to avoid splashing urine on my feet… Indian loos are cool coz you don't get bored: all the while you're peeing you wonder: Why don't they put handles all over the wall (when your thighs are about to give in and you are in the middle of a stomach effort and you have to lean a hand on the wall, it is not easy to keep the pose!)? How do old women and pregnant ladies do? How do constipated people can squat for more than 3 minutes?? And old constipated ladies?? Well,apparently it is all a question of habit...

Despite all that I have started preferring Indian toilets to European ones: it is just cleaner (most of the time)

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02/24/2014 | Permalink

Too much is too much! Or maybe not...

Too much.jpegRecently, India, to me, seemed just too polluted, too noisy, too hot, too smelly, too chaotic, too complicated, too mosquito-friendy. Just too much. It was probably the effect ‘three weeks in Europe in September, with an idyllic climate, the beautiful landscapes of Scotland (without pollution, without noise, without heat, without humans; well, just without anything)’. And I had to answer the same ten questions about life in India, which somehow makes me highlight the challenges – and consecutively wonder what I am still doing there! – rather than focusing on the positives, I don't know why. So landing back in my ‘reality’ under fooggy 40 degrees was a bit rough this time.

Until the day (less than a week after I came back) where, in the toilets of Chennai airport: I had been struggling for a good five minutes with my earrings – I got my ears pierced two years ago but I am still very clumsy and I hurt myself every time I try to put an earring – when the cleaning lady offered her help. And saved my right ear from a bloodshed!

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10/24/2016 | Permalink

They call it the CWG mess...

It’s not nice to criticise but well, I have been forced (by Shiv) to watch all the news about the Commonwealth Games 2010 in Delhi. And I find it extremely boring – who cares about these stupid games?? But at times it gets funny too; and shocking. So here are some things that make me rise an eyebrow: 

  • The chief Indian organiser saying that “Indians don’t have the same hygiene standards than foreigners”!! No need to say he got trashed by everyone here!  
    • A South-African athlete found a snake in his room. But the South-Africans are sport: one official offered to clean the toilet himself is required. But what is it with the toilets and the games?? 
    • The best cyclists (from England) have pulled out, fearing dengue (and yeah, there is a big dengue spread in Delhi this year because of huge rains – and by the way there were floods in the venue a few days back!). Is there ANYTHING going right in Delhi right now??
    • A footbridge under construction at the main stadium for the Delhi Commonwealth Games and a ceiling at the weightlifting venue collapsed. This would be funny if no-one had died. But there are poor people so who care (please understand here my “French” sarcasm). 
    • 2 weeks before the Games there was an attack in a major tourist spot in Delhi. 2 Taiwanese were killed but their death has still not been reported in the Indian press. Are they hiding things from us?? 
    • 4 days before the Games, the newspapers completely changed their stance and everyone is super happy!! Security is great, food is amazing and the village is good. A miracle has happened!! (??)

    Just a small review. Games were granted to Delhi in 2003. Initially the cost was Rs. 150 crores (25 million euros) and came up to Rs. 60,000 crores (10 billion euros) and other figures are even stating Rs. 4,00,000 crores (66 billion euros) to be paid up in the coming years.

    "They are killing animals, they are cutting trees, they are displacing people, snatching livelihoods, destroying rivers, looting the taxpayers, violating all possible labor laws, increasing the cost of living to unimaginable heights, asking students to vacate hostels, all this in the name of the Green Games. […]Shamelessly authorities have decided to erect Bamboo screens around the city slums to separate visitors from the sights of the slums. […]Thousands of others have migrated to city as laborers to work in various projects for the games. The WHO is also saying that these games will increase slums and unauthorized colonies in the city.”*


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09/30/2010 | Permalink

Helen's pearl 3 - All terrorists!

My father pointed out the other day “Did you see that? Trump has not put India on his list of banned countries for visa! To what I replied that he had obviously not yet done the maths and I would like to be there when he realises that there is the equivalent of one third of the American population of Muslims in India. Trump wanted to stop terrorists coming from Muslim-majority countries – except that none of the 7 countries has perpetrated any terrorist act against the United States in the past 15 years (since Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc. are not part of this list) (source). There is undeniably an imbroglio between Islam and terrorism, and at the highest level.

A few days later, I was commenting on this discussion with my Indian colleagues. Because I have been thinking that Modi and Trump could be good pals. After all I am pretty sure that the Indian Prime Minister (quite a Hindu extremist) would love to have his wall also, between the India and Pakistan! And he also likes to ban stuff, no more beef, no more porn, no more old notes, no more this, no more that. This led my colleague to conclude that to be re-elected, he would really have to do something “for the people”. And me (naively): “Is it so? Like building houses?” Mr. (Modi) Clean has built 25 million toilets in 2 years, to eradicate open defecation in public (source); so building houses must be good for the people? But no, what the people want is not toilet or houses, it is “the war declared to Pakistan, even nuking them would be better”.  

The same evening, after a long day of work, my nanny, well my son’s nanny really, decided to give me her opinion on terrorism. I must say I was listening with only one ear. But I know she resents terrorists because she’s afraid that due to the recent events she won’t get a tourist visa to go work in the United States, after 10 years of waiting for a job offer she just finally got. I was hearing some words: “terrorists, bike, young children, mattresses”. As I was not reacting, she went to get some newspaper clipping and she waved it under my nose: “No, but can you believe that, how do they dare enrolling young children in these terrorist activities?”


- “But, Helen, these people, they are fleeing terrorism it!” (She had obviously missed reading the legend).

- “Really??? Are you sure? But they look like terrorists don’t they?”

- “But Helen! All Muslims are not terrorists...!”

Helen wrapped up article, not really convinced.

The people have spoken... ;(

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02/27/2017 | Permalink

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