The public toilet woes

The public toilet woes

‘Go to toilet, if you want now, otherwise you will have to hold it in till we reach the destination’; for most of us, this must have been one of the primary commands that our parents had dole out before we embark on a trip, it does not matter whether it is to a marketplace nearby or to a cross country trip., the instruction remains same. But who can blame them as India is notoriously lacking in the area of public toilets. For them a mere trip to bazaar can be nightmare when the kids whine ‘mummy soo soo’ with a distorted face.

In the country where the Prime Minister is pushing for the rural sanitation with ‘Har Ghar mein sauchalay’ campaign, the public sanitation still remains a far cry. The public toilets are intermittent sights in India, with busy and crowded areas nearly having no accessible loos, leaving the people who are outside with two options, either to hold it in till they reach home or the place that has loos or use footpath as their own personalized public toilets, in India the latter is common sights.

One of the most common sights that our country has to offer is the people unabashedly using the footpaths and bushes as their loos. From the little kids to the grown man the road side becomes convenient bathrooms where they relieve themselves. Although much has been said in the direction of parents teaching their children public manners, the lack of public toilets as the main culprit in this scenario is undeniable.

In such a situation the announcement of Delhi municipality’s mandate to open the hotel bathrooms for the paid use for the public comes with mixed reaction. This decision of Delhi municipality reminds me of an incident that one of my dear friend once shared with me. As per indignant narration, she had been out on a shopping spree when natured called on to her badly. Stuck in the middle of a shopping spot in Bengaluru, she tried her best to scot for a public toilet, but only to fail miserably (pun intended).  She was flailing with desperation when she spotted a mall nearby.

Taking it as God’s sign to save her from potential damage to her mental and physical health she made a run for it. Spotting a bathroom just beyond the door she ran into her liberation. After she did her business, she happily made her way to exit only to receive the stink eye of the security personnel posted on the entrance of the mall. Apparently he understood the entire episode and felt offended at using mall for just its bathroom. Although he didn’t utter a single word, to this day my friend swears by his stink eye.

May be somewhere in there was a lesson that security personnel wanted us to learn, if you are using our building’s toilets, better buy something. Now, coming back to our Delhi’s hotel although the municipality’s decision seem to be welcome relief to the travelers, the plausibility of it seems debatable. The hotel owners are allowed to charge the public, much like those bus stand or railways station ones. Although this means extra income for them, it also means extra efforts for them to keep the bathrooms clean with general public going in and out for umpteen times.

The hotel-toilet arrangement might seem great at the moment, its charm will wear away gradually mainly due to the pressure on the hotel owners. It would have been truly great if Delhi municipality keeps this as temporary arrangement while it is building more public toilets. Public toilets are much more feasible in long run as they ensure income for the government, employment possibilities and comparative safety for the females. In hotels more than often we are greeted with unisex toilets, which can prove security hazards for various reasons. The public toilets managed by the women can ensure safety and even lend a helping hand to women in some of the ‘situations’.

And best of all one won’t feel guilty of not buying or eating in this case, if we are using public toilets as there would not be security personnel to judge you.

-anila