In Praise of the Indian


Considering we spend atleast 100 hours a year in the loo, it never ceases to amaze me how so little of it makes its way into the popular discourse. Of course there are expressions like ‘Shit!’ that are a part of everyday language, but in the abruptness of that word there is an element of sanitation that takes away much of the impact that the word would otherwise carry. Hypocritical mockingbirds that we are, we need to shed this duplicity and stare the shit right in the face.

In such a noble aim we are aided by possibly the greatest invention in mankind’s long and torturous history. The Squat Toilet (or the Indian style as we refer to it) is humble, unassuming and basic. Yet at the same time it is the most underappreciated wonder of our age. I have never fallen for the charms of the Evil WC (Western Commode as Indians call it).  It is just too comfortable for what is essentially an act that requires great strain, effort and planning. Rare would be the soul who ventures out on a day trip without having had his morning bowel movement. This is a universal trait that is all the more pronounced in the Indians, the Chinese and the Jews. I think it has to do with the spicy food that these communities eat and the consequent obsession with ‘badhazmi’ and ‘pressure’.

I digress however. The Westerners, those masters of deceit, prefer the WC because it is allegedly cleaner and less messy. What tosh! All the scientific evidence in the world cannot convince me that using toilet paper for the ‘act’ is as hygienic as  using water. Imagine, in a public toilet, sitting right where somebody had plonked his naked arse a few minutes ago. Cleanliness anybody? To add to that, some barbarians prefer to read the newspaper in the loo! Only a people who have no concept of the Devi Saraswati can ever abuse the written word in such an indecent manner. Little wonder then that the dumbing down of the Western world dates from the widespread adoption of the ‘Commode’.

The Indian is much more honourable. For starters, it makes no effort to hide your deed or mask its smell. Unlike a WC, there is no escaping your karma (or your dinner last night). People actually make an effort to maintain a proper ‘hazma’, so that they are not reproached by their peers for screwing up the loo. Again, the inherent discomfort in the Act means that one does not appropriate the toilet for private ruminations. Chew the cud outside for godssake, let the loo be for people who need it. Even Indians otherwise starry eyed about the shiny WC, would concede that “pressure to Indian mein hi sahi aata hai.” That is the primary function of the loo and the Indian does it like nothing else.

Why this growing love for the WC then? It is mostly imitation. Just like M.N Srinivas’ theory about Sanskritisation, people with a low estimate of themselves try to adopt what they perceive are the ways of a superior race. When the Angrez use it, it has to be good! This is Colonial Era Inferiority Complex, and it is invading our toilets as well.

A postscript about that wonderful contraption. The WC with a pedestal for feet. The best of both worlds? Hardly! This monstrous anomaly has always made me squeamish. It is not hard to see why. Imagine dropping a heavy mass into still water while you stand a few feet away. It can be very fucked up.

So let the brown sahibs drool over their spic and span Chair-cum-toilet. We, the sons of the soil, shall keep straining ourselves over the sandaas that would make even a Soviet utilitarian proud.

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