Toilets, or rather the lack of them, has a funny way of bringing women together. At Khardung-La, the famed spot in Ladakh known to be the world’s highest motorable road, an unlikely bond formed between women, all tourists, from different countries, cities and ages one afternoon in July. What united them was the fact that there wasn’t a single usable toilet in the area. First, there was collective outrage, and then a common solution was arrived at. Fifty-odd women lined up, in batches, on a side of the mountain, to squat. One batch made sure no men ventured their way, and also kept a close eye on women who were squatting too close to the edge. “Don’t fall off the hill!” was the usual frantic refrain. From then on, pit stops were decided based on whether there would be a usable washroom or not.
Indeed, the availability of a toilet too often dictates women’s movements in India, even in the urban centres. Ummul Kher, 24, follows a simple, if exasperating rule of thumb before she leaves her hostel at Jawaharlal Nehru University in the capital to travel into town: no water, no food for at least four hours before departure. “I can’t take the chance, especially since I don’t have full use of my left leg due to a bone disease. If there is no western loo, I have to use my hand to support myself on the floor. You can imagine how revolting and unhealthy that is,” she says, adding that her frequent trips to aiims in Delhi to the orthopaedic department are no less traumatic. “The washroom is up a flight of stairs. It was impossible for me to get up there when I was in a wheelchair. So when my sessions lasted from 9 am to 1 pm, I would not have a single drop of water.”
So is it any wonder that the city’s women know never to take a good toilet for granted. Last year, when the popular music festival NH7 Weekender took place in Pune and Delhi, visitors, especially young women, gushed on social media not only about the performances, no, but how well maintained the portaloos at the venue were. The organisers said as much: you can’t deny the place of a toilet in having a good time. Their count of portaloos at the Pune venue which will host about 9,000 people at this year’s edition of the festival: 100.
It’s true that many urban women have access to toilets at home, but let’s not forget they lose that advantage the moment they step out. Ekta Jaju, a documentary filmmaker in Calcutta, points out that the search for a loo is among the few occasions which can make a woman feel really inadequate. “You lose your independence because you want someone to come with you to keep a watch while you use the toilet, hold your bag, especially in desolate places, or at night.” Says Rolly Shivhare, a rights activist based in Bhopal: “Even initiatives like Sulabh shauchalayas are not free of infections, and they are not that many in number anyway. They also give no guarantee of safety for women. In our office, we have just segregated the toilets, but in many offices it’s a daily struggle because the women’s and men’s toilets are not separate.” For women who are often out with children, it’s doubly tricky. “I track down a good hotel if I’m out in the city,” says Sophia Khandelwal, Chennai-based businesswoman. “When I moved to India from Spain I was struck by the number of people urinating out on the streets. But then reality sunk in, where else could they go?”
Men, therefore, are expected ( by authoress Neha ) to answer natures call, in public.
They are supposed to have no shame whatsoever. And definitely not worth building a toilet for, specifically. Even if forced to pee in public, the media will still curse him with ' what an idiot' and publish his photos to shame him.
While if a woman is seen needing to go to the toilet, it becomes a public frenzy. What if her sacred poo soils the ground? Or god-forbid, her sacred genitals are exposed to male eyes, maybe?
This 'toilet' gender-casteism, is journalistic s**t.
The genius of Kundan Shah in 'Jaane Bhi do Yaaron', is that he didn't tell us his ideas. I mean, the municipal commissioner of then Bombay, now Mumbai, D'mello played by Satish Shah says, 'Thoda khaao, thoda phenko', which Mr. Shah didn't deliberately mention means, that people don't generally digest all that they eat, in fact they defecate more, digest less. So, if you throw a little swiss cake after a eating a little, the burden on all private and public bathrooms and toilets will be not a peacock.
What was a 'regulated economy'? There is an unfortunate situation in the previous Campa Cola manufacturing complex, where it seems buildings were constructed, and today the municipal corporation says should be brought down. The people who live there could be given houses outside the area, but why not ask the govt., or the municipality, whether a business or house can be constructed, when the medium of economic exchange is money, issued by the govt., and the govt. actually says whether a business is feasible in any circumstance?
If people ask the govt., whether a business is feasible, then if I were to set up a restaurant, I wouldn't complain about ther many permits, which can only be filled up in form and received back after death. In fact, the local self govt. authority would be more helpful, if we asked them before, as a general rule of govt. to people interaction.
What is the level of civic sense, and civic pride? We have such a civic interaction, that we keep our toilets not clean. When people litter on roads, is it a sign that there aren't toilets? Would people not litter, if they had toilets? If govt. officials saw people littering the roads, and made toilets for the same people, what does this signify or mean, if anything at all? Who do the govt. represent, and who does the civic authority represent?
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