60 years of independence and 200 years of British rule have not proved sufficient to make people in sub continent comfortable with ubiquitous sanitary import called Commode (Western Lavatory) and understand the right way of using it. This , I have learnt though my interactions with numerous Indian Professionals, Graduates, Defense Officers, Workers and observation of railway , personal, corporate and public lavatories.
To my amazement this simple piece of sanitary ware has been rendered to so many configurations by confused curious countrymen that I found a blog or treatise to this is fully justifiable.
True Indian Style Perch(Raw): The true Indian tradition of couching down on haunches to defecate is difficult to get rid off. So what, the poor commode does not have marked foot space on it. The countrymen/ women can still have their way . There are two ways of having their way.
1.Pull up the seat(Align it with cover) : This is from the more generous one. With their footwear ON, they try to balance their legs on the thin ceramic portions to defecate. This makes most of the country folks comfortable; it leaves shoe marks on the plastic and is not so good etiquette. (Note some Indian manufacturers have Indianised the ceramic base to have footmark where one can properly perch.
There have been some instances when a poor fellows’ shoes slipped off the ceramic(Imagine a sudden rail braking jerk) , making him fall with a thudd and causing a grievous hurt. The vector of injury off course has infinite possibilities depending on the fall.
2.Leave the seat down and perch : This is done by less sensitive souls who want to do it their own way, everywhere .They perch Indian style on the plastic seat and have a blast. Some times the plastic seat slides( The hinges are not always secure) and the refuse is likely to fall in any random space possible. Often the droppings kiss the seat and slide down. The poor folks can’t do a thing about that because the flush companies are yet to develop jet which can reach those spaces without disturbing the bathroom harmony or spraying water all around. This probably can provide a good opportunity to flush innovators. The merit of this is total absence of touch to the equipment and hence most prevalent.All said and done, this way is the most unobtrusive to the countrymen and most repulsive to the subsequent user(Unless , he is not wary toblock his nose and repeat performance of his/ her predecessor.. ) .
3.The Great Usage paradigm I . Once the desi is perched on the seat , in any of the above mentioned ways , he would keep shifting his weight alternatlely on each leg, periodically raising his bums up and face down to probe whats happening down there. In course of this ,the turds fall on one or the other wall and some time on the seat and like a snail slowly mark their journey down leaving a visible trail. Once the ordeal is over , its the time to wash off and they need nothing less than a lota ( A spheroidal utencil ) to do the cleaning part . With lota in right hand and some water in hand they rub their underside violently . Once the ritual is over he gets up and leaves the loo leaving a lot of water and what not, all over. The question is what and how should he leave the loo ? The Railway instruction plate expects him to leave it the way he would like to find it and also we as next user.
3a Scenario I : S/He just walks away. The next incumbent would find the toilet usable only in Indian way and the purpose of installing a Western Commode is lost.
3b Scenario II: S/He lifts the lower cover and rests it on the top cover,. The water and other fluid trickles down but the tard sticks to both bottom and top cover. How does the next incumbent use it then ?
4. The Great Usage paradigm II(Leave one down) : In this case the the Desi uses the toilet just like a Westerner but leaves the seat down. . The next incumbent comes to pee and as his fountain metamorphoses to trickle in final stage he drops a few drops of his fluid on to the seat. Wiping it out with any thing seems toom uch to expect from a hurried passenger.Seeing the drops of urine on to the seat the next incumbent again finds it difficult to use the seatto defecate. Incidentally, on entering a coporate unisex loo room I was once shocked aghast at blood drops on the seat left by some mennstruating woman who didnt care to wipe it.
5. The Great Usage Paradigm III(Leave both down): Use the toilet like the way you want and then drop the top cover on to it to leave everything covered.. This though looks a little neat solutionfrom outside but.. fills an incoming guest with suspicion as to what is he/she going to see on lifting the top. The mind is always ready to anticipate filthy tards and belch out a loud scream before running out of the loo.
Whats the Solution ?
The folks in the country need to understand the right usage.. The top cover may be left in open position. The middle cover may be along side the top cover in open position. This can facilitate the guy who has just come in to pee, to without any contact just do that, press the flush and go . This leaves the commode as he found it.
The incumbent, if wants to defecate, can pull the seat down, sit appropriately , go through the motions, do the minimal wiping(If required His own) ..and again lift the middle seat up . Any residual droplets on the seat as a result of wet ablution will trickle down a vertical seat . S/He off course can clean up ones own droppings. This can mostly avoid the surprises and stigma of using a public toilet.
There are some companies which have come up with toilet seat shaped disposable napkin dispensers but these are of scant use unless the basic question of toilettiquette and mode of usage is addressed. This national malaise in civilized India is some thing we are pretty shy and coy of addressing.
Whats actually needed is a civic debate on standardizing this. This is what the NCERTs and State boards should be teaching the budding citizens rather than what the Masai people do in their tribal fest, whats is the chemical name of coagulant in cockroach’s blood or what is the parliament of Slovakia called.
PS: I found this image of commode innovation pretty amusing on the web..