‘Bum’ Blast  for a clean wash !
Columns, In Black & White

‘Bum’ Blast for a clean wash !

Recently Dr. Javeed Nayeem wrote an article titled “Let Clean Bottoms Come First !” where he expressed his frustration at not being able to enjoy a sparkling 5-Star bottom in Indian 5-Star hotels as most of them don’t provide a faucet, bidet or even a mug to splash and clean one’s bottom.

It’s unfortunate that Victorian prudishness persists even though just wiping with paper could lead to anal fissures and even chaff your skin and cause mild bleeding. So yes, washing your bottom is hygienic…of course, you have to wash your hands with soap after the deed.

Now, the good doctor’s article reminded me of an advertisement that caught my attention. In the ad two children were having a pillow fight as a voice said, “Hands are made to play”… Then a kid gives chocolate to the other kid and once again the voice said, “Hands are made to share”… Then it showed a couple holding hands and once again the voice said, “Hands are made for joy.” Now since “hands” was the key word in all the lines I assumed it was an ad seeking funds for prosthetic limbs for the handicapped who could not afford one. But then the voice said again with a flare… “Kohler presents ‘Pure-clean’ multifunction bidet seats, enjoy hands-free hygiene for your everyday routine!”

But what was this ad trying to say? That we Indians were dirty for using our hands to wipe our behinds? It is a touchy issue for many of us, more so for me because it reminds me of one of the few times I’ve been rude to a lady.

While studying in the US, one evening at a bar filled with college kids, I was asked in a shrill loud voice by an American girl, “Eeww, how do you Indians wash your butt with your hands?” It was an inappropriate question and meant to offend. So I rudely answered, “If you have shit on your face would you wipe it with paper or wash it?” And added, “wiping is merely smearing not cleaning, dogs do that.” I had crossed the line and her boyfriend was huge so I shut my mouth tightly, like a constipated rectum, for the better part of the evening.

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In fact, quite a few Asian students in the college dormitory got into trouble for wetting the toilet floor as they squatted to wash. Finally they were asked to carry wet wipes or a bottle of water to dab the tissue and use it. More interestingly this bum washing woe brought the Indian and Oriental students together. Even today I have friends in Indonesia and South Korea… thanks to our need to have sparkly clean butts.

But what made me so aggressive was that our style of squatting and washing is seen as primitive and unhygienic when it’s only partly true. But it’s still better than the western style. In fact in the late 1970s, US President Jimmy Carter had Haemorrhoids. TIME magazine did a story on this and, in the course of the interview, the President’s doctor said, “We were not meant to sit on toilets, we were meant to squat.” Yes, squatting is the best position to “evacuate,” aka take a shit.  Squatting may be healthy but washing with bare hands may not be hygienic unless you clean your hands well after the deed.

But now in India, things are changing as many houses have hand-held bidets… you spray and then wipe with toilet paper. By the way, bidet, pronounced ‘be-day,’ is a commode-like fixture but much lower in height. It sprays water as you stand over it to wash your behind. It is a French invention. And since you have to stand over it with slightly bent knees, like riding a small horse, it’s called bidet, which in French means a pony! A hand-held bidet is just a hand-held water sprayer. Some call it ‘health faucet.’

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Now we have an American company telling us that our hands are not even good enough for drying or dabbing ! So what is so special about this new bidet? Well, it seems now the rich people’s bums can be treated like their wives bouncy hair …a splash of water and then blow dry ! No hands !

This may seem ridiculous luxury but in Japan there are toilets that are capable of measuring the user’s body fat, blood pressure and sugar level after they poop ! Even more amazing is that this information can be communicated to the doctors! Yes, the doctor gets an email from his patient’s commode !

Another interesting toilet fitting in Japan is something called the ‘Sound Princess.’ It seems, women in Japan find it very embarrassing if others hear them pee so they used to repeatedly flush until they finished peeing, thereby wasting water. So this particular device makes repeated flushing noise to mask the pee noise and thus stop the ladies from wasting water !

With all this fancy wizardry on commodes, like our lives, even the basic act of evacuation has become complicated. I for a moment entertained the thought of buying a fancy commode but was held back by the cost and fear of what if the commode malfunctions. I imagined what if the computer chip on my commode malfunctioned and instead of splashing and drying my bottom it gave me an enema or a rectal exam. Even worse… what if I enjoyed it?!  Then I’ll be mentally traumatised as I would have to question my whole sexual preference !

So for now, my bum will remain a functional unit of my body that has only one job to do…and it won’t get the same treatment as my face anytime soon !

P.S. Next time if you are a bottom washer…carry wet wipes.

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April 1, 2017

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