<%-- Page Title--%> Slice Of Life <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 149 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

April 9, 2004

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The Loo Story

Richa Jha

Even as I write this, my need to rush out of the house to someplace, just anyplace, is acute. Going against the unspoken inherent sense of ease with one's home, and one's own toilets, I hereby publicly announce that, as long as there's some water flowing, there is no place like the loos outside of my home.

Our apartment has gone without a drop of water for over ten days now. It is this one dry patch of parched concrete structure amid an ocean of, well, water. There is water in every direction my eyes can see from the windows. The cars in the neighbouring houses get their daily wash as usual, the farm opposite my apartment gets watered as usual, the water tank of the building to the right overflows as always, and the fountain at the end of the road gurgles out water more furiously than it usually does, if only to tease us.

It is one thing to say that there is no water in the house, and another to actually not have any. A friend of mine in Bombay would categorically bar us from entering her flat on certain days of the month, when her changed levels of oestrogen brought about certain elements of misanthropy in her attitude (PMS in modern parlance), ostensibly stating water problems. "Why do you want to come today? What'll you do yaar, we can't even have coffee today, no water…, etc". However, it is not quite the same here. No water means NO water. Which means that every drop that had been saved up in the bathtubs, buckets, tumblers, woks, polythene bags (I know they are banned, but they've proved the most indispensable item in our household over this last week) and gum boots has been used up.

And then it's not just me and my family. There are several more in the apartment who may have gone without a bath, or proper food, or regular…it's best left to your imagination. Apart from the occasional huddling up to spew out venom at these forces that have conspired against us, in general, we apartment mates have been avoiding one another in any sort of the closed spaces. No one would like the scent of an unbathed woman, or man, even worse. Skip the elevator, didn't the doctors prescribe taking the stairs instead?

Problems often come in big doses. Mine came in watery doses (there again, you see? Only to taunt me further). As if the need to minimise toilet use was not enough, I soon realised that my bowels had suddenly eased up a bit and needed to be cleared more frequently than you'd expect a healthy adult to. Finding a quick solution, outside the house, was the only option left for us.

As a temporary remedial measure, The Hubby and I have suddenly transformed ourselves into the most sociable couple in town, visiting four different sets of people every day, calling on vague acquaintances, casually dropping in the evenings for post-prandial coffee and chit-chat (with our toothbrushes neatly tucked inside my hand bag or in The Hubby's pockets), and so on. The changing rooms at the swimming pools are coming in handy, my child's school's vast toilet-resources have been made full use of, and I could also give you a written account of the loo-status in the various shopping malls in town. The Hubby too has become the most hard-working soul at work, being the first to reach, and last to leave. (We soon plan to bring out the authentic guidebook to the 100 best toilets in Dhaka.) Once your basic needs are taken care of, life suddenly doesn't look so much of a drag.

On the plus side, the cook is on a paid holiday- my child has found that extra person to play with, and there genuinely isn't any work to do at home. It's picnic time, without even having to bother about preparing those sandwiches, and the messy clean-up act. Once you look at it that way, it's not all that bad.

However, as is now evident from the updates trickling in from the various parts of the city, we, after all, are not the only ones to be singled out by the WASA. Last night, we were politely asked to refrain from using the toilet at our friends place. Not as brusque as my Bombay friend, but they casually mentioned that some flooring work had been done in all their toilets, "half done floors today". Another set of friends kindly excused themselves away-from-home for the evening, stating there was an acute water problem at their house. We dashed to the restaurant we've been visiting for our daily meals these days and they had a notice taped on the toilet door saying, "Sorry, out of use. The water from this toilet is being used to cook our special treats you just had. We thank you for your co-operation in this."

The banks of Gulshan Lake, here we come…





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