Toilets etc….

Ok  – this is perhaps an unorthodox subject and one may wonder what  doe it have to do with Latitude 34.

I can argue that on this line i have seen numerous styles and states of toilets, from the super clean – high tech japanese ones to the foul smelling holes in remote China. And various level of taboos, from seeing someone urinating or defecating in front of me to toilets where the sound of water is played to cover up any ” other ” sound.

Why can one place have them clean and another not? its not down to water or poverty – I have travelled 15 years ago in a remote village in Senegal, at the border of Mauritania where there wasn’t much water and  the hole in the ground was VERY clean! and it was no matter where I went.I remember then there was no public toilet and I had  to walk a long way to town, I would knock at any house door if I need to go and I would be allowed to use the house toilet. Different times….

In china I noticed they don’t really wash the toilets, they brush them with a brush made of straw….the cleaning ladies that is….While others in Morocco it is with buckets of water and bleach, or in Japan and America there is this very strong and sweet smelling detergent, and sometimes those air refresher spraying every  few minutes.

We used to have terrible ones too when I was kid in Morocco, or even in France ….I think it is easy to have a convenient amnesia… However I have never smelt something as bad as some of the public toilets in China.In fact I stopped drinking during the day – and stayed totally dehydrated with  the heat by fear if those toilets, after one day nearly puking just approacjing one on a mountain near Lianyungang …a  town as close to 34.02 on the coast.( more on another Chapter)_

Faced with this issue of defecation in public in China I wondered how is that acceptable, beyond this idea ” that a child’s urine is pure? Since when has the  human being ( in some areas) started to hide? some cultures are more prude than others when it comes to toilet matters. A toilet is also a relatively recent invention and perhaps as long as man did not have an established abode, he did not have a toilet. Becoming sedentary and making a home may have been one of the starters for coming up with a solution to the waste.

While quickly looking up this question, I found again Austria….

In Dehli there is the  Sulabh International Museum of Toilets with the help of curators like Dr. Frittz Lischka from Austria. In an article on the history of toilets, there is mention that this is actually a real sanitary issue in under developed and over populated countries like India. Something I wasn’t aware of – ie , I didnt think it was an infrastructure issue…

I would never have expected such an insight from this journey!

On a lighter and colorful note, Hundertwasser, the Austrian Architect who built the wonderful incinerator in Osaka, is famous in NZ for his public toilet in Kawa Kawa!



About Malika

Visual Artist - Story teller - Outdoor enthousiast - Lady Yellow
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2 Responses to Toilets etc….

  1. So interesting! Hurrah for Austrian architecture and Far North New Zealand. In England, Victorian mores dictated clean, large, enclosed public toilets everywhere. Men could use a urinal for free, but the use of a cubicle cost a penny to enter. Women had to use a cubicle, so often, in a city, my mum would whisper. “I wont be a moment. I have to ‘spend a penny’.”

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