This is a photo of our bathroom. The bathroom is my least favourite room in the house. Despite the fact that I am quite used to it now, I was recently reminded by some visiting Americans as to why I dislike Indian bathrooms so much.
If you look carefully at the photo, you’ll most likely notice a number of things that aren’t common in American (or even Australian) bathrooms. The number one thing is the set up of the shower. Yes, that’s a shower head at the top of the photo (next to what is the hot water heater). And no, there isn’t a screen separating it from the toilet area.
That’s right folks, it’s a “wet” bathroom! The Americans were simply astounded by it. When taking a shower, the water goes all over the floor, the walls, and the toilet seat — then finally runs down a drain on the bathroom floor.
Now, there are a couple of other factors to take into consideration in this arrangement. Look again and you’ll notice a bucket in the bathroom. No Indian home is complete without at least one bucket and one small “mug” (there will usually be more).
Many Indians, my husband included, prefer to take a bucket bath rather than a shower. This involves filling a large bucket up with water and tipping it over oneself with the smaller mug. This method of bathing minimises the amount of water that goes everywhere. Generally, it will be restricted to the floor, rather than the toilet seat and walls as well. But despite this, there is no avoiding getting the bathroom floor covered in water. Hence, the need for the cleaning implements shown in the bathroom photo. Wiping down the floor is a constant activity.
I must admit, the first time I stayed in an Indian house with a “wet” bathroom (and just a tiny drain hole to one side), I had no idea how to go about using it. I couldn’t fathom getting the floor (and every other surface) wet. It’s just not the done thing where I come from. So, I filled a large bucket up with water, stood in it, and attempted to wash myself. Seriously. Then, I had no idea where to tip the dirty water. So, I left it there! Sad, but true.
The most troublesome thing about the “wet” bathroom is how dirty the floor becomes if water is left on it, and people walk though it when going to the toilet. What I’m really dismayed about, is that in almost every “wet” bathroom that I’ve encountered in India, the shower is positioned closest to the door and the toilet on the other side of it. This means that you certainly must walk across a wet floor to get to the toilet. I just can’t understand why the shower wouldn’t be located to the far side of the bathroom, and the toilet near the door. It would make the toilet more accessible. And keep most of the water away from the entrance. But, no.
So, I spend as little time as possible in the bathroom. I just do the bare necessities and get out. And I never feel very clean after being in there either! But still, at least the bathroom is functional.