Monday, July 30, 2007

"Why do you have a jug/bottle in the bathroom?"

I've tried to begin this article several times, yet I can't seem to approach this matter subtly and with minimum embarrassment. One of the less known intercultural dialogues that occur when young Arab or Muslim students share flats for the first time with Europeans or Americans is the inevitable question "Why do you have a jug/bottle in the bathroom?". The subsequent shock and horror they express when later they are told seems to me incredible but surely it's more hygienic or am I just being culturally obstinate? I've only brought this up because it seems to be something many of my friends seem to encounter when first they visit Western countries. I hear from African and Asian friends that Tashteef (to splash) is also the norm. Why do most people I meet in Europe and America refuse to even consider the concept? Living in a country where the toilet and bodily functions are considered suitable topics for jokes the uneasiness and avoidance of the topic is baffling to say the least!


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7 comments:

yaman said...

hahaha it's almost hilarious the number of times i've had this conversation.

our best bet, i think, is to put some sort of potted plant in the restroom and to pretend it's for watering it =)

saint said...

Hi, you have opened a can of -------. You might be correct on the side of hygiene but not necessary the way practiced. Do not forget that the residential western toilet is more tidy and dryer than the oriental one.
The oriental cleaning way is starting to catch into industrial practice and it finding its way to lots of western cities. Take a look: http://www.cleanishappy.com/

Yazan said...

I dont wanna brag, but here it seems the japanese care more about the toilette remote than they do about the TV.
and yes most toilette have bidet, ofcourse with all the neatness of hot water, water pressure control, water positioning, water smell, water sound, they will even have heated seats and ass-adjustment functions.

To say that a toilette experience here is a happy one, is truly an understatement.

Wassim said...

Yaman, Nice idea about the plant but surely we shouldn't have to be ashamed of it?


Saint,
Thank's for the link, it's actually pretty cool. Hope it catches on!

Yazan,
That sounds absolutely amazing!

The Syrian Brit said...

Wassim,
A belated comment, since I have just returned to the UK after a two-week visit to Damascus..
In every house we moved into in the UK (including a number of rented Hospital houses), I would cut the water pipe feeding into the toilet cistern, insert a T-junction, fit a tap on the side limb of the T, and connect it to a short hose. This way, I and my family can continue with our normal hygeine habbits.. The difficulty was always trying to explain to the Landlords afterwards.. and the cock-and-bull stories that I had to come up with have been quite imaginative!!..

The Syrian Brit said...

p.s. I also always put a non-return valve in line, to prevent retrograde contamination..

Wassim said...

Syrian Brit, I'd kill to have your DIY skills. I'm part of the new generation who have no idea what to do if the vacuum cleaner breaks or the fuse goes. I salute your generation!