Since I spent class tonight demonstrating why certain digestive ailments are called “the runs”, I thought this was as good a night as any to do the potty post.
Westerners make a big deal about squatty potties. Especially women. I don’t know why. We all know that every public toilet in America is technically a squatty potty- only requiring far more strength and balance to maneuver than the ones here. As one of the faculty said tonight at dinner, “If I’m in a public bathroom that’s gonna be grimy anyway, I’d take a squatty potty over a western restroom ANY day.” We all nodded in knowing agreement. You don’t have to worry about coming in to contact with anything. I know one of my pet peeves is how small the stalls are in the states. Too often, I have to lean against the toilet just to shut the door. Not so in a squatty. There’s nothing to have to move around. And you don’t have to have ninja moves and amazing balance to be able to flush without touching anything- the flushing mechanism is usually a foot pedal. Additionally, squatty potties are much MUCH better for your pelvic floor than a sitting toilet is. Ask any Physical Therapist.
I’ve been to several places with squatty potties. My first was Japan. Theirs were cool- often on a sort of step-up thing where you could put a seat down and sit if you wanted to, or put your feet into the little feet grooves and squat. Turkey also has squatties. Like all Muslim countries, there are water spigot/hoses in every bathroom to clean yourself off with. Loved those. I also ran into them in a few Eastern European countries. I want to say Romania had them. I think Hungary did in some places too… So the idea of squatties didn’t bother me- until I started hearing horror stories about some of the public girls’ toilets on campus.
Just so you know- the Chinese think sitting toilets are disgusting- and their logic isn’t something I can argue with. The idea that we would sit down naked on a place where other people sit down naked –even people we know– grosses them out completely. I get it. I’m used to it- but I get how that’s foul, foul, foul. Used to totally freak me out in the Czech Republic that the girls would wear such short skirts with thongs – so their bare butts are sitting on the chairs. Didn’t know how anyone could wear shorts—let alone thong underwear—when you know the seat you’re sitting on has had bare butts on it all day long. One of the things I’ve learned travelling is that we’re ALL gross, really. Which is probably why foreign faculty is totally comfortable having potty-talk at the dinner table. It all started with talking about the toilet-training toddlers with their split pants that will just squat and go wherever. I saw a little girl squat and pee in the middle of European Square the afternoon before. It’s shocking to the Western eye, but in watching some of my friends struggle with potty training, I recognize it’s a brilliant tactic to raise awareness for the child. There’s no lying when asked “Do you need to potty?” when the kid’s got pee (or worse) going down their leg.
But all that said, I’ve been amazed at my body’s ability to hold on and get me back to my room most times. I’ve got all kinds of issues and am one of those people that can easily go every 30 minutes. It’s annoying. It was one of my many many fears about coming here… and all the horror stories I’d heard about how dirty the toilets are didn’t help. I’ve been amazed and grateful for my body’s sudden ability to hold on. Tonight was one of the nights when I had to run in the middle of class, though. My stomach is just NOT okay here. I don’t know what the deal is. I’ve even had upsets with the food I’ve personally cooked. Is there wheat in the ground fennel? The ground cumin? Because everything else I’m using is totally fresh veg and herbs. It’s got me living in fear, I tell you. Living in fear.
The bathrooms do smell horrific. The odor will knock you over. But its not because they’re dirty. Its because the plumbing can’t handle tissue, so you have to put your tissue in the bin there in the stall. You know how people are. If it was covered, it’d be all over the floor—which really is gross. So in public bathrooms, the bins are open. It doesn’t take long for it to smell like a diaper pail. I don’t know how often they empty the bins, but I don’t know that it would make that much difference. The one in my room has a foot-pedal lid. I empty it often, but it is a daily battle with the smell. I keep a spritzer bottle with doTERRA Purify there on the bathroom counter.
Once I realized the smell is coming from the tissue bins and not because of filth, I was fine. Glad I had this awareness early on. It’s made life easier. And spared me the humiliation of being that obnoxious American shrieking and freaking out in the bathroom (which I have run into a few times). Just make sure you keep a package of face tissue in your bag at all times, and don’t forget your hand sanitizer—Not all places have soap and water…