Updated: Jan 3
Telling a good story is all about how well you deliver it. I assure you, I do not deliver. But keep reading regardless because it’s about me humiliating myself which is always a treat.
I went to India about seven years ago which is as long as it has taken me to get over this mortifying experience that I had there (joking but not).
I was travelling with four other people. I could say friends but that would be a stretch. We were visiting the Amer Fort in Rajasthan and I severely needed to pee. Now normally, because of the toilet situation in India I would hold it in until I got back to the hotel but on a scale from 1 to peeing my pants I was at the “touch my midsection and die” phase. I would put this as the 3rd most urgent in my life that I have ever had to go.
So I enter the female washrooms and directly ahead of me there were about five toilet holes in the ground next to each other. There was no partition or barrier wall separating them. Nothing. Just wide open, exposed spaces. As a lady, I’m sure there is some protocol or dignified way you’re supposed to squat over a hole. I’m sure the Queen can do it quite gracefully. I, on the other hand, can not. I have as much grace as an ox (no offense to ox).
There were three available holes but I hesitated before I made my selection because what went through my head was:
A) Should I face the wall so they see my butt OR
B) Face outwards so they see my youhoo.
I figured my butt was less awkward than my lady bits so I went for it. Before I could have the sweet salvation of relief I hear what I gather to be an almost inaudible laugh which emerged precisely at the moment when I pulled my pants down. There was no guarantee it was a laugh or that it was directed towards me so I tried to stay focused on the task at hand. Fiddlesticks, I had gotten stage freight. Eons pass and I couldn’t go. All I could do was stare at a wall in front of me half-naked. I obviously couldn’t see what was happening behind me but this time I knew for certain that there was laughter directed towards me coupled with some distinct chattering also directed toward me. I immediately thought I must have been squatting wrong or they were laughing at the fact that I couldn’t go. Panicking now, I tried to barter with myself to go pee, I thought of waterfalls and visualized my bladder emptying but it just wouldn’t come out. More laughter. Some braver than I would have pulled up their pants and walked out head held high but I just squatted there like an idiot thinking please pee, please. By some divine miracle, I finally went. I didn’t even get that satisfying feeling of having an empty bladder after holding it in for what felt like months because I knew something was up. I fumbled for my pants shaking and turned around.
There were about 45 Indian women packed into the small washroom big enough for about 15. They were smiling at me and they all started saying something in Hindi and pointing at me. Embarrassed, I squeezed my way through the barricade of women towards the exit. Now, you’re going to think I’m exaggerating when I say there were more than 200 people gathered around the toilet entrance but I’m not. There were primary school groups. Literal whole school groups. Laughing and pointing and chanting the same thing.
My friend who is part Indian told me that what they were chanting in English was white butt, white butt, white butt.
That same Indian friend said, “why would you use a squatting toilet when there was a full Western cubicle toilet in the back corner?”