Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Chalta Hain

Despite trying hard to have some sort of a family reunion dinner, my father dashed away to London the day after we landed. Chip and me and my freshly root-canalled brother and my mother and my uncle all drove him to the airport for a quick good-bye and most importantly some family pictures. But this post is not about reunions but about umm.. for the lack of a delicate word, well, it is about, err, pee-pees. Consider yourself warned. Now is the time to stop reading if you do not want to hear supremely funny tales of a young lad’s momentous journey as he battles his conscience and his body. Bolt now, if you must.

No? OK. Read on, oh, brave ones. As our car negotiated the orange cones at the CSI airport, Chip announced he had to go pee-pee. We were almost out of the airport, headed on our way to go eat dinner. “Chip”, I said. “There are no restrooms here. Would you like to do pee-pee by the road side?” Chip shook his head vigorously. “No. I want to do pee-pee in a restroom with a commode. No road side pee-pee, Aie.” “That will have to wait.” I warned him. “Will you wait until we get to a restaurant?” Chip nodded a yes, not for a minute doubting his will to hold on to his pee-pee for 30 minutes. Thirty minutes breezed by and we were still nowhere close to the restaurant. We were sitting in traffic. “Aie, I want to go do pee-pee now.” My uncle was alarmed. “Chip, let me pull the car over and you can do it by the roadside, OK?” Chip shook his head. He was not letting go of his visions of restrooms with commodes and toilet seat protectors. “It’s OK Chip, really. This is an emergency. There is no restroom here. So it is OK to do it by the roadside. Not always, mind you, but only because this is an emergency.” Chip looked doubtful. We were 10 minutes away from the restaurant. “I’ll go in the restaurant. “ He declared. I doubted Chip’s ability to hold for so long but two year olds often amaze you with phenomenal miracles. But not this time. No miracles were forthcoming and Chip had an accident. His tiny bladder just gave away. He was dumbfounded and embarrassed and angry and frustrated. He just wept and apologized and screamed. I changed him in the car and wiped the seats but he was gloomy until we got to the restaurant.

Fast forward to a few days later. We were at my in-laws home and Chip and I took a little walk to the local market to get me a cell phone card. The trip, I thought would also be illustrative to Chip about open air markets , tiny shops, real money, crowds and suchlike. We walked for about 10 minutes, recharged my cell phone, drank the sweet water from a fresh coconut , which he unbelievably hated. A few minutes later, Chip announced his desire to answer nature’s call. “Chip” I said again, a little sternly. “There are no restrooms here. Will you do pee-pee by the roadside?” This time Chip did not waste a minute thinking. “Yes” came the quick reply. A secluded spot under a tree was soon found and Chip answered the call with utter fascination. “Where is the flush Aie?”He asked trying to look over on the other side to see if a flush lever was lurking there. “There is no flush here.” I was embarrassed. “Is it an automatic flush then?” “Sort of” I said hurrying him away.

Fast forward yet again. These events were narrated to me by my sister in law. She had taken him down to the tot lot in the front of my in-laws’ home. After Chip had played on the slide and the swing and jumped and hopped on the little steps that held the pole for the annual flag hoisting, Chip had to go do pee-pee. “Come on, let’s go up, do pee-pee and come back down again.” My sister in law urged. Chip would have nothing of it. What if this were a conspiracy hatched by his aunt to take him upstairs? What if his own mother saw him go home and decided now was the time to give him a bath? “No!” yelled Chip. “I want to do pee-pee here.” He pointed to the flag pole. My sister in law was understandably aghast. “Nooooo, noooo. We have to upstairs and do it at home. ” Chip would have none of that. She pleaded again with him and he shook his head. “We don’t do pee-pee here, we do it in the bathroom and we will come down again. I promise. We’ll go upstairs and come back in a minute OK?” Chip thought about the proposition for a second and decided to educate his Aatya. “It’s OK to do pee-pee here, aatya. This is India. Ithe chalta (yahan chalta hain)”.

At which point, I, who was talking to a neighbor was summoned. With sister in law's help Chip was promptly frisked away upstairs not just for pee-pee but a bath and dinner as well.

On a slightly more serious note, a big kudos to all mothers of small children in India. I don’t know why we don’t have such basic facilities yet. Barring high end restaurants, I had a hard time finding a place for my son to pee. Why do we ignore such basic bodily functions? How do you all cope?


rayshma said...

am i glad i don't have a kid yet. i'm going to be all enlightened thanks to u mommy bloggers by the time i have one! :D
i, for one, CANNOT use a public loo. it either has to be my own house or a good friend's.
and oh yeah, i HATE nariyal paani!

DotMom said...

rayshma: he oughta be your kid :) I can't believe you hate nariyal pani!!!!!

Solitaire said...

I have no kids. But I know what I did in India to control my pee-pee, especially on train and bus rides more than 3 hours long.

I would NOT have a drop to drink until I reached my destination (which was sometimes as far as 18 hours away).

I have kidney stones now but I don't care! I refuse to even use the restrooms in India.

Suki said...

hahahaha! Chip is fast getting Indianized, eh? :P
I'm painstakingly locating usable restrooms all over the city these days. It's crazy!
Oh, and I love nariyal pani! But 8 bucks for a green coconut is sometimes too much :(.

Usha said...

Very interesting. I haven't actually seen small kids doinf their business on the roadside in recent times ( Of course children who live in places without toilet facilities do. I mean the other children) and I can't seem to remember how I managed with my son. I am sure it was the roadside trees. I do find a lot of 2 yr olds and 3 yr olds in diapers in the vegetable market. I guess this is how they manage.

Mona said...

ew, i hate nariyal pani too. it's SO bland.
and yeah, i had the same issue growing up - we could never find a public bathroom in india and if we ever did, no way in hell would i have used it.
it's become a habit. no fluids when out in india - no staying out of the house for more than two hours at a stretch.
i'd love to know how moms living in india handle this too.

SUR NOTES said...

the side of the road, the side of the road! been there, done that, continue to do that with child.
and long bus journeys, i prefer to sneak into the fields rather than go to the rest rooms ( though are getting much better now)

and my child very recently figured that nariyal paani , in small quantities, is nice. she hated it for he longest time. and refuses to touch the malai in the nariyal!!!

Asha said...

My baby is still diaper, so no issues. But road side peeing seems to be the Indian norm. At least the road sides are cleaner than the Indian public toilets!!

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that you didn't find a rest-room on the Mumbai-Pune highway!! I have been visiting India with my kids from UAE and I have seen things changing. There are 2-3 drive-in food joints on this highway where you can find fairly clean rest-rooms. I guess Indian parents who live in USA bring back with themselves the superior country complex, which they pass on to their kids :))

DotMom said...

solitaire: ach. I would not do that. I am glad Chip was drinking tons of water. He was in hot and humid Mumbai where he needed the water.

suki: Maybe you should do a post on all usable restroom in Kolkatta. I am sure it will be a BIG hit with tourists.

usha: That is what I had to resort to. I would out him in underwear and when he had to go (for the big job) and if there were no restrooms in sight, I would put a diaper on him, let him finish the job, and then back to underwear.

surnotes: I bet fields are more clean than the restrooms. And I never thought so many kids would hate nariyal paani!

asha: It is sad indeed that such common fucntions are ignored.

anon: We took the train from Mumbai-Pune and Chip refused to go in the filthy second-class railway toilet (and I found out later on a return journey that 1st class was marginally better). surely you know that infectious diseases that are practically non-existant in most developed nations are a norm in countries like India? Diseases like Hep-A and Cholera and Amebiosis and E.Coli infections? That are trasmitted by ingesting human fecal matter? That does not bother you? Perhaps this exact attitude needs some adjustment. Only then can we hope to have restrooms in public places that are clean and numerous. As long as the majority treates having a clean restroom as a superior country complex, there is no hope.

I love Lucy said...

Forget about kids,even we *gasp* had to resort to finding bushes during our various trips in India.And the worst part was there would invariably be a group of lecherous men who would quickly try and follow us so that they could catch a glimpse. Yuckkk. Unpleasant memories.

dipali said...

Genuine problem: I can recollect being pretty desperate myself on inter-city drives. Kolkata has decent loos in the big department stores, of which I've found Shopper's Stop to be immaculate.
Chip certainly learned a lot in India:)

Rohini said...

First had this problem when we went to the zoo. The loo was so filthy that I didn't have the stomach to even enter. Finally had to make the brat pee on a bush in a corner. Felt very bad about it but where's the choice!

Cacophoenix said...

I hate bathrooms on trains, on the side of the roads where lord knows what hides in the bushes, and I hate dirty toliets. I am not kidding but I know ppl who have ahd close encounters with snakes and I kid you not vultures when they went to attend natures call, I guess nature calls in different forms "shudder." Funny, because I was appalled when I heard that ppl in the west used tissues. Alwasy wondered if it was becasue of water shortage. Oh Btw, I LOVE nariyal pani. The sweetness and the natural smell and taste is unbeatable. I don't like the bottled version, will only setlle for freshly hacked ones with lots of malai. YUM!

mumbaigirl said...

I feel for Chip. Poor thing. Frequently have the urge to pee myself on road trips in India and then spend hours looking for bushes to hide behind.

Candyfloss said...

LOL! He's a quick learner, isn't he? :-)

the mad momma said...

LOL! actually with the brat i never had a problem because i did just that - made him pee by the roadside. he got potty trained at some 18 months so he is quite used to it. i did a post abt him wanting to pee in puddles and trains and all sorts of funny places.

but with the bean it will be harder. i will need to hunt for a toilet seat and that will be almost impossible. so like Sur, she and I will have to hunt for bushes!

Poppins said...

Oh oh poor Chip and poor you as well. For short trips I plan them around places I know will have restrooms, restaurants, malls and friends houses. Long trips she is still in diapers.

That said I have a incredibly small and cute travel potty with me that comes with its own absorbable covers. (Got them at Mothercare) and that's what I plan to use for Poppin when we go on trips (once she's out of diapers completely). Somehow I can't imagine a roadside for a girl. It's harder for them (us) :)

I guess clean restrooms were never that big a deal when were growing up because we only used Indian potties and if you wore your chappals to the loo and covered your nose with a handkerchief it was manageable.(I know Ugh)

I actually find western style toilets a pain when it comes to public toileting. With no seat covers or tissue paper, it's the worst ever experience.

And oh yeah, I live in India, love India but I hate that we don't have clean public restrooms. That's not a superiority complex, that's just the reality !

Just Like That said...

LOLLOL Poor Chip! ROFLd at his search for a flush under the tree... Dear Chip!

Well, I think its easier cos we don't really think too badly of toddlers pee peeing in the open in as you say secluded corners. :-)
But yeah, as they grow bigger it IS difficult. Sonny boy was outraged when recently on a drive to Kerala, I asked him if he wanted to do susu and on his nodding, got him beside the car and unzipped him in full view of the deserted fields!!! finally nature's call prevailed, but those accusing/dignity-injured looks persisted for quite a while.

Its ok for the toddlers and for the younger kids too, but its the mothers and aunts and grandmothers who are sorely troubled with the lack of clean public toilets.

DotMom said...

I love Lucy: lecherous men would follow you as you peed? What an absolute horror!!!!! yikes.. can I ask you which part of India this was in? I have often peed in bushes, but this was a long time ago and mostly in maharastra and never experienced that!

dipali: shopper's stop (in Pune) was OK. For the prices they charge (Rs.800 for a t-shirt for a toddler) they could have been better.

Rohini: What's the choice indeed!!! It's harder for older women like my grandmom who can't even sqat.

Cacophoenix: snakes and vultures?? Wow. I think people in the west use toilet paper because in the olden days where running water was not available.. it would have been hard in winters to get some hot water to wash. Also the reason I feel they eat with implements rather than fingers and wipe their mouths instead of rinsing. It all boils down too (pun not intended) not-so-easy transportaion of hot water. But I agree with odern technology this should be an easy problem to solve.

mumbaigirl: aye, aye.

candyfloss: in all the wrong matter, yeah :)

madmomma: that's exactly what I kept thinking. What if Chip were a girl.

poppins: potty with absobable covers?? NICE. can't say I have seen one ehre like this. they have travel potties and they come with plastic liners. I wasn't too thrilled with the idea of carrying soiled liners in the car on trips.. I love India too and would move back in a heartbeat.. doesnot mean I have to like every single aspect of India.

JLT: you are so right. That's prolly the reason older people like my grandmother don't get out so much. they can't squat so you have to go to a friend/relative house.

GettingThereNow said...

I so understand what you must have gone through! The last time we went to India, about 5 years ago, I had a very difficult time going out with S when she came down with diarrhea. We went to a very good restaurant for dinner and even they didn't have clean toilets, water to wash with or light in their restrooms. It sbecome a habit for me to go around with loads of wet wipes in my purse. Your reply to anon about the hygeine part in looking for clean toilets is very accurate. And that problem gets accentuated for girls as they HAVE to sit down on the filthy seats. We are thinking of going for a visit in December this year and I am already fretting over such issues! And what DO you do when the people you are visiting themselves maintain very poor hygeine? My in-laws aren't particularly vigilant about maintaining clean bathrooms. I swear, I wash the bathroom attached to our room as soon as we get there! S, who was 5 at that time, very innocently asked me (when she saw the bathrooms at my in-laws' place) "Mommy, don't people in India clean their bathrooms?" And no one can tell me that it is just my in-laws - I have seen plenty of dirty bathrooms in people's homes to know that not everyone maintains my standards of clean. Even here in the US.

Boy! THAT touched a nerve :D

GettingThereNow said...

Oh, and I hate nariyal pani too.

Ananva said...

I hear ya! When we went to India last Oct, I ended up changing gattu on the space next to the sinks or on the floors of the bathrooms in the couple of restaurants (one in Mumbai, one in Calcutta) that we went to. I was glad to have carried my diaper changing pad with me. But I guess, most folks in India don't have to think about such things, because diapers are a relatively new concept.
I grew up learning to hold it in, as we didn't have Shopper's Stops or other malls in the 80s or even early 90s.

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

Chip looking for a flush is downright side-splitting! He is just so adorable!!
The last time I went to India was almost 5 years ago and T1 was still in diapers. Made it really easy for me (Tho I packed diapers for my 2-month stay there)! True, there are so many places in the US too where restrooms are filthy (Ever been to the Baltimore Travel Plaza?? - Gross!). We're gonna use em regardless (if u gotta go, you gotta go!), but what's wrong in asking for a clean restroom?

mummyjaan said...

Last year, I went to attend a party at a 'function-hall'.

Most times, I make my daughter go for her 'pee-pee's' before I take her out and hope we don't have to go again before we get back home. This time, unfortunately, I was not so lucky - she had to go. I took her to the toilet there - it was FILTHY and its smell was abhorrent . For the life of me, I could not take her inside. And here was my kiddie, jumping up and down, and telling me she really had to go. My SIL passed by and immediately chided me for going anywhere near that bathroom. She pointed out the bushes nearby and that's where the l'il one 'went'.

For that matter, the airport bathrooms were no better. When I landed in Hyderabad last year, I headed there to change the baby's nappy (what was I thinking? No, I wasn't thinking - it was a reflex, that's where you go to change nappies, right?) I turned back the instant I stepped in - the place stank, and there were humungous cockroaches everywhere. Sense returned, and I changed her in the car soon afterwards.

It's a sad truth that there are such few clean places outside where you can take the children when they need to go. I guess moms there have learned to survive - the roadside is probably more hygienic than the few available public toilets.

Hopefully, though, the situation will change - if it's possible to maintain clean public toilets ( or 'restrooms', as you polite Americans like to call them *smile*) in high-end shopping malls , it should be possible to maintain them elsewhere too.

Preethi said...

hahaha .. chaltha hein eh?? I have found restrooms so far.. the only downside being India toilets... which has Nnatu amused.. knok on wood.. Chip is one clever fella

Vinita said...

Wa wa wa.. Jaoon aalis ka vaishnodevi la . Tujha koutuk karava titka thodach aahe. Kudos to you.


choxbox said...

totally agree with what you say.

my kids arent huge nariyal pani fans either btw.

Anonymous said...


first comment I frequently :-) I live in the US too, and taking potty-trained kids to India is one of our enduring problems. My kids are now 7 & 5 and when my son was 3 or so, he really liked peeing on the roadside - to the extent that he wanted to do the same when we came back after that trip! Daughter has it much worse poor kid. She isn't tall enough to hover over western toilets, so I carry toilet seat liners from here (the paper ones) for times that she absolutely has to sit down (big job on trains for example) but usually, I make her squat indian-style on western toilet seats as well (I hold her so she doesn't fall in) and if there is an indian-style toilet available we use that.
We haven't had too many issues - we usually visit Bbay, and S.India (several cities).

Such a enduring problem...very sad that it still persists.


DotMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DotMom said...

GTN: I think a lot of people hate cleaning their own bathroom. So if domestic help does not turn up, the bathrooms are left uncleaned. We knew people like that back home.. I can't believe so many people don't like nariyal pani!

Ananva: I remember when I changed schools in 6th standard, I had a bad case of UTI because I used to hold it in ...the toilets were so filthy in school.

GND: you know how he likes all things mechanical. I am sure Chip will happily go to every restroom in New Jersey (or Baltimore) after the places I took him to pee :D

mummyjaan: I think the systems in India and toilets being a huge part of it are catered to mommies or daddies not travelling alone with a baby or a small child. I think our parents generation were fine with it. Or just seldom left the house with a baby/child in tow. I think our egneration will demand facilities to make our life easier. I don't see you or me staying home becase junior has no place to pee :)

vinita: aaley ki jaoon. chhaan zhali trip. kautook kaay tyat? evda vaatat naahi chadhailaa.

choxbox: birds of the same feather...

Anon: It is so much harder for girls. That is a good idea carrying toilet seat liners. I will send some for my grandmom too. Where can you buy them?

GettingThereNow said...

Yes, but I can't imagine why! I mean, it is part of YOUR house, YOU use it so why not clean it? In my opinion, you can judge how clean a home is by looking at the bathrooms and the kitchen sink :P

rayshma said...

YAY! see?! i am not the only freak! :D
he can be my kid if REFUSES to eat anything that has even a single leaf of coriander/parsley in it.
my cousin's younger daughter's like that. they sed i cud legally adopt her! :D