Thursday, November 19, 2015

To loo or not to loo!

Today's article comes on the lines of World Toilet Day. At a time when the Indian government is paying so much attention to tourism and revenue and jobs that can be generated through Tourism, the question I put forward is: Where are the toilets for women? In the years of my travelling through the country I have suffered (physically and mentally) for the lack of proper toilets along the way. Just a few tips to make everyone's travel through India a "smooth" one!

1. We all know that the key is to know when to drink water. Drink loads of water the day before you travel to avoid using a public restroom (yes, Indian public restrooms are mostly unclean - exceptions do not make this rule).

2. Use the restroom in your house before you start your journey.

3. If undertaking a long train trip, always enquire about the "cleaning" stations on the way. The loos in Indian trains usually get a hose down somewhere along the journey and pantry boys and TTEs are aware of the stations and could share the names so that you can use the loo after it has been washed. Or you could stick your head out of a door AFTER the train stops at a major station (five to ten minute halt) and check.

4. Bus journeys, especially the 10-12 hour ones, are a pain. Not all buses stop at dhabas/restaurants offering clean restrooms. Always know that you can ask the bus driver to stop for a few minutes while driving through a town where you can spot any clean restaurant that you can hop into. Do not be ashamed to request passengers to urge the driver to stop at a place offering a clean loo.

5. Please try not to take nature's call to nature. Going behind the bushes/rocks is neither safe nor hygienic. Most women in rural areas face assault on their way to open spaces where they go to defecate owing to the lack of proper sanitation system in their homes.

6. Whenever you find a clean toilet, please make a note of it and share information (like Alpaviram's facebook page: for other traveller's to benefit.

7. Use the toilets in a hotel room than the general toilet in the lobby of the hotels. In case you are being hosted at someone's house, kindly leave their loo clean after your use.

8. The restrooms near the boarding gates are always cleaner (in my experience) than the ones just before the security gates. Although there are some airports that have just one loo so whenever you have the option, use the restroom closest to the boarding gate before taking a flight.

9. If you are driving down in a car/taxi, it is advisable to stop at state-run institutions (even museums) for a loo break. Most heritage sites have loos that are regularly cleaned (thank you Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan, Clean Indian campaign). Cafe Coffee Days are a better pit-stop tan petrol pumps in India. It was mandatory for petrol pumps to

10. Try the "pee-buddy". It is a unique innovation that does not require you to squat to relieve yourself. You can stand and do your business and reduce the risk of infection. A lot of wayside amenities do not have working flushes. Kindly ask for water or tip the cleaner to clean up before you.

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