Saturday dawned for The Girl and promised fun on the run: Interview assistance in Jayanagar for Srinivas Alavilli’s pet project, ICDS. Sponge and soak in the water management seminar at Church Street for Meera Kri’s pet project, Citizen Matters. Discussion on Mid-day meals in public schools in Kanakapura with Ramamurthy (founder of Sikhshana), his pet project.
Halfway through recording the interview with the ICDS teacher, The Girl realised she needed to record attendance at the bathroom soon. As they finished up, she spied the Anganwadi bathroom outside on the open terrace. A rusty tin door hinged to a suspiciously diagonal wall with gaping gaps, bravely attempting to be securely shut by a couple of rocks on the floor.
It screamed so much adventure, she decided to defer gratification. Instead, she hatched a plan for a coffee stop en route and used all her womanly insistence to pick the best place. Her male companion was convinced without doubt that she was a coffee Nazi with the adamance employed, but she was simply covering for bathroom fanaticism. Such insistence is a survival necessity because who knows how long it may take in Bangalore traffic to reach the next stop?
And was she right! Traffic was completely stalled for a good hour between the Siddiah Signal and Richmond Flyover but life was pressure free for her, thanks to planning and persuasive skills.
The “knowledgeable” Girl knows well the right tiffin and coffee shops in Bengaluru that serve both signature beverage and tolerable women’s bathrooms. When one such is found though, it isn’t quite as seamless as open and pour.
First comes the entrée. Bumbling first timers might march right in to the bathroom to be felled before they start. The “angelic” Girl, however, steps in gingerly. Any number of ambushes lie waiting. Disgusting brownish yellow water pooled at any given spot on the gently undulating floor made by skilled masons who have taken deliberate care to mimic the hills and valleys of Bangalore. The coagulant gets between the soles and shoes, a good few inches of the unsuspecting victim’s pants, salwar or saree are soon dripping. When it happens, the distinct character of the stagnant muck makes you feel you actually tasted it.
Step into it and you know it is all over. You can never go back to innocence and freshness and decent things in life. Just a moment before foot meets filth, a split second before, you can actually witness yourself about to take the unholy dip but you are helpless. The brain relayed motion signal races ahead while the brake signal is enqueued. At that instant, you truly experience what it is to be at the brink, at the edge of a cliff. To step outside of yourself and mutely witness deliberately soiling.
You are now scarred for life but The Girl takes the high road, the dry route.
Next comes vigilance. Again, fools tread too soon and begin the internal process of relief prematurely, preventing any roll back, any saving grace. The “wise” Girl though, knows to check for a door that latches before she goes too far down the path of relief, if you know what I mean. Much urban lesson has been learned sitting in the wrong stall with leg and hand so outstretched that thigh muscles threaten to rip and shoulder threatens to dislocate from socket while skin still doesn’t make contact with door. It is ajar and sheer will accompanied by silent prayer is all you’ve got. Clueless males may not realise this, but it isn’t as much false modesty or graceless other women peeking, but mostly about cherubic underage faces bursting right royally in, matching you in half undress and watching your shell-shocked face, mouth agape. Not to mention your relief interrupted!
After the stink-and-security scout of the stall, on if picked. Now comes diligence. The “far sighted” Girl carries a hand bag. A good-sized one with a shoulder strap. And it must be carried into the toilet. Silly men might imagine it is vanity at work and she must redecorate before she emerges. The real truth is that The “prepared” Girl always carries tissues in it. In fact, she carries just enough for various pre and post cleaning rituals and she must replenish the stock in the hand bag every so often from various coffee shops, restaurants and her own stash.
The “practical” Girl knows these tissues must be kept in the most accessible pouch of the bag. One challenge is that many stalls have no bag hanger but that is a minor irritant for The “weathered” Girl who knows the right way to clutch a bag while relief is in progress. It might click on lesser individuals as to why it must be a shoulder bag, about now.
Back to diligence, impatience rushes to rest where droplets and wetness abound. What follows are sticky thighs and a never solved mystery haunting you all day about the nature, colour and viscosity of the liquid you lay your seat on. The “keen-eyed” Girl does a once over of the toilet seat and uses those handy wipes to execute a flawless pre-relief cleansing ritual on the seat.
Post climax, The “spotless” Girl may have washed up with soap and water before emergence or used that hand sanitiser from her life-saving shoulder bag. So when she steps back out into the big bad world exuding a regal look, her confused male companion might relegate it to fresh make up but The “beautiful” Girl is more than skin deep.
She has just conquered the urban bathroom battle and emerged both relieved and unsullied. That boost of confidence puts a spring in her step and a smile on her face.
Job done. She. Is. The. Brilliant. Girl.
The opinions expressed here are author’s own. Citizen Matters as a news analysis website, makes an attempt to present all sides of the issue, but does not endorse or reject them.