10 Public Convenience

We’ve exhausted our enthusiasm for debate on the virtues and vices of the welfare state.  It was bound to happen sooner or later. I am talking about the inevitability of having to visit a ‘public convenience’. Here it is labelled simply, ‘latrine’. Visions of rural Chinese toilets flash uncomfortably across my mind. With trembling and trepidation, we 3 girls set off across the street. At the entrance to the Ladies, a young girl hassles us for the toilet fee, “5 rupees each, sister.” It was outrageous. We give her a 10 rupee note for 3. She complains. We march on in. As it turns out, we were scammed by the 13 year old. Toilets in India are supposed to be free. 

Gingerly sniffing, we turn the corner – I’ve got to say it’s not very often that one navigates by the olfactory system. Usually it’s to track down food, not its opposite. In the open courtyard, there is a drain with some taps spitting and dripping quite wastefully. The cubicle doors are brilliant blue and in the beginning stages of rotting. As luck would have it, the loo turns out to be as serviceable as those in Sanlitun, Beijing or the older coffee shops on the North-South highway in Malaysia. We are duly impressed, but that’s not really saying much. Err…. no photos for this post.

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