Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Hole

I realized something this morning while squatting over my hole. Which waste receptacle is really more advanced – the Western toilet or the desi hole? You would assume the modern toilet, but I am now not so sure. You might say that the hole is dirtier because the floors are more prone to getting soiled with waste and dirt. I’d argue that the toilet has more nooks and cranies and is much harder to clean than a flat floor. I’ve done both many times and I find spreading some water over the tiles a lot easier than scrubbing hard-to-reach corners of my toilet. You might then raise the toilet paper issue. In desi toilets, you don’t clean yourself with paper… you use your hand and water. But for anyone whose ever tried it, they know that using water cleans much more thoroughly. It’s obvious. If you’re hands are soiled, what’s better: a napkin or running water? Then one might raise the issue of using their hands to clean themselves. Really? Have we gotten so hifi that we are too scared to touch our own ass? Also, the insight I realized today is that the whole act of squatting is part of the superior cleanliness of a desi toilet. When you squat, you spread your butt cheeks out and so the area gets far less dirty than if you’re sitting on a toilet. Until know I couldn’t figure out why just a few splashes of water did the trick.

I think it’s just like us Americans to feel grossed out by cleaning up after ourselves. After all, if we have any legacy in this world, it’s taking shits in places and not cleaning up the mess with our own hands.

UPDATE: Since I originally wrote this post, I've realized there is one additional argument to squatting as a superior technology to sitting on a seat: After doing it for some time, I came to realize that squatting makes going easier and faster. It somehow puts the right amount of pressure on your belly, and in the right place. I am convinced that there is science behind the squat... it's not accidental.


  1. excellent anal-isis about the toilet. HEH. its def cleaner but there needs to be an improvement that incorporates hygiene. maybe something that spits out soapy water? or a hand sanitizer box.

  2. Neil P,

    How will you ever be able to read a magazine over the hole?

    On the real - I appreciate the analysis. I too share an interest in the variations of the throne. In India, I experienced a western toilet with an eastern accessory -- a fountain built into the rim of the bowl that shoots water up your backside. Have you encountered this innovation yet? What are your thoughts?

  3. I believe what Pav is referring to is a, "bidet"

    I'm the cultured roommate

  4. Pav,

    The magazine point is a good one, though I now usually do my business without reading about business so this doesn't affect me much.

    And Benn, I think you're wrong about the bidet. That is a separate apparatus that sits next to the toilet bowl, if I'm correct. What Pav is referring to is what people here call the "Jet". And let me tell you, Jet is right. I actually have tried using it, at my Masi's house. Two funny things happened when I used it. First, I accidentally turned it on without sitting on the bowl so a laserbeam-like jet of water flew across the bathroom and hit the door with a thud. The second funny thing is that the jet is no joke. It hurts if you don't control the speed correctly. It may be that I'm just not used to things shooting up there but I'm actually all right with being uncomfortable about that.

    But overall I was pretty impressed with it... they have solved the "using your hands when cleaning your ass with water" problem very well with the Jet.

  5. i think my favorite advantage is the fact that you are wasting far less drinkable water!

  6. We need to install one on campus ASAP. Too bad I'm not living at Synergy this year.

    My friend wrote a piece on Synergy for the NYTimes recently:

    Of course, we're not quite no Berkeley :)