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Indian Toilets

Quite a few foreign visitors have a dread of Indian toilets.  The squat-type toilets that are common in cheaper hotels are actually much more hygienic and healthier for the system than sit-down toilets.  They just take a little getting used too.  The most important thing is not to fall in.  This seems self evident, but when the floor is slippery it is easy to do.  You can get a nasty cut to your foot if you slip and the porcelain breaks along the rim.

The first thing to do, before you use the toilet, is to pour a bit of water down it.  This helps prevent anything from sticking and makes flushing easier.  Stand on the two footpads at the edge of the keyhole shaped bowl with the large opening at the back of you.  Hold on to something and squat over the bowl.  You'll find this squat position aids in the defecation process.  Once done, pour a bucket of water down the bowl to flush.  Historically, all humans defecated this way, and still the bulk of the world's people prefers this method.  Once they get used to it, many Westerners prefer it.

A tissueless existence
Once you have mastered the squat toilet, you may want to try to give up that wasteful, environmentally damaging practice of using toilet paper.  This is where most Western visitors draw the line, and spend their trip lugging rolls of expensive toilet paper around with them.  Perhaps their early potty training was too vigorous.

If you do feel adventurous, here are some basic tips.  You'll need about a litre of water.  All Indian bathrooms have a little mug and a tap or a bucket of water.  When you have finished, reach behind you and between your legs with your LEFT hand and, holding the full mug of water in your RIGHT hand, pour the water slowly into your left hand.  You can pour from the front or the back - which ever feels most comfortable.  Use the water in your cupped left hand to wash yourself.  Repeat as many times as necessary.  Air dry.  When you are done, wash your hands well with soap.

If you learn to like this process (It leaves you cleaner and is much less wasteful than using toilet paper) you can adopt the technique for sit down toilets too.  Just lean forward and pour the water from behind you.

You can carry your tissuelessness even further by buying a few of the cheap handkerchiefs sold at the roadside.  For Rs.5-10 you get good cotton hankies, useful for mopping sweat, drying hands, or for when you have a cold.  Rinse them out at night and save yourself all the expense and waste of tissues.  

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