I have to admit that I harbor a touch of morbid fascination with India’s archaic shit-everywhere culture. I’m fascinated that an enormous number of peoples share this collective “ability” (willingness?) to walk outside and squat in circles/groups/clusters and simply shit. It’s as normal an activity to them as standing around eating donuts outside a Dunkin’ Donuts is to Westerners.
It’s sickly fascinating!
I’m fascinated because it is the last thing in the world I could bring myself to do. I have poop issues, as I’ve recounted here many times (which, considering the subject matter, should be “once”).
It’s not to say that many Indians aren’t self-reflective enough to comprehend the fact that public shitting is considered reprehensible by most of the civilized world, and thus, creates a global perception that India is, by extension, uncivilized.
This Guardian piece tackles the issue in a restrained, abbreviated matter. After all, how can one blame Western media for avoiding in-depth examination of the “defecation quandary?”
Pradeep wakes up every morning before the cockerels start crowing. He leaves his house and starts whistling; a signal for all his friends to gather. They talk among themselves and branch off in different directions across the village. They are on a mission.
As dawn slowly breaks in this rural corner of Sehore district in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, villagers leave their homes carrying a small dabba (container) to perform a ritual as old as humanity. As men and women find a quiet and secluded corner and start going down on their haunches, Pradeep and his friends spring out whistling and topple their dabbas of water. Calling themselves the Dabba Dol Gang, Pradeep and his friends (children between eight and 13 years old) use their unique and courageous method to draw attention to the people defecating in the open, in an attempt to prevent them from doing so in the future.
Pradeep is one of thousands across India who are trying to solve one of the world’s greatest challenges; how to get 560 million people in India to stop going to the toilet outside.
Pradeep. Why is it that Indian names conjure the sights and sounds of…pooh? If there is one name that I would say encompasses the nature of human defecation, it is Pra-DEEP.
I could never, in my wildest dreams, shit so openly. My pooh time is my alone time. No one else is allowed anywhere near the bathroom while I am concentrating on creating the perfect BM. And trust me, each BM is its own unprecedented production and aspiration to perfection. At least it is for me. Thing is, pooh must be done, as much as possible, in a hermetic environment that disguises and muffles all possibility that my private endeavor will be detected by outsiders.
Pooh time is mine alone and if one, only one, appears to transgress my safe shit zone, I am incapable of performing and this will ruin my day, in so many ways.
Got to give the Indians props; how do they do it?