Don’t discount your need for toilet paper when traveling in a third world country…
The family is preparing for an epic trip to India. First of all, it’s the first family vacation in 25 yrs for this foursome since the kids were 12 and 10. Everyone is excited to see where Daddy went to grade school. The school is having it’s 150th year celebration, which is amazing in and of itself. But India is an old country and still a bit third world,isn’t it? The mother certainly thinks they are going to be practically destitute, she’s brought those tuna packs of food, crackers, and even toilet paper. The daughters are like, “seriously Mom…toilet paper? Come on, it’s not that bad over there.”
After 13 hours, lost, on an ancient bus like what you see in the movies, windows opened and luggage piled high on top, the daughters definitely changed their opinion. Once they left the metropolis of New Delhi and started heading north, at first, the countryside was a novelty until they came to smell, well before they saw, the “shitting fields”, at least that’s what everyone on the bus started calling them. The sisters quickly learned these fields are where the people in the rural area use the bathroom. Terraced hills, like a rice field, except it’s all mud/dirt, where intermittently you’ll see somebody taking a squat. The odor only compounds the atrocious conditions. It’s amazing that people really live like this. The ancient bus they were traveling on should have been their first clue that the city of New Delhi and major cities in India are anomalies compared to the rest of the country. You can’t help but think, no wonder so many of their people study hard and want to leave the country for opportunities in advanced civilization.
While the girls’ opinions and eyes were forcefully and viciously opened to the the reality of this country, there was still quite a bit of fear when they learned that the bus driver was lost. Sitting in the back of the bus, it takes some time for the news to get back to them, but when they had to stop at a checkpoint between major states, the guards were all readied with machine guns, literally plural, hanging from their backs and one in the hand, not including the handguns at their waists. That sight does make you a little scared, especially when you’ve been on the road for 9 hours and it was supposed to take be an 8hr bus ride. It was hot in the afternoon, the bus did not have A/C, but luckily, or not, they were headed into the mountains where soon it began to cool off, a little too much.
The buses weren’t equipped with heat either. The temperature was dropping to 45 F and lower at night, depending upon how high you go into the mountains. Finally, after 13 hours of being on the road, the buses suddenly pull into a small mountain town that is an extremely out of place Americanized go-cart/video game establishment. Everyone needed to pee, badly, not to mention needing to get out and warm up by walking around.
The bathroom stalls had no curtains or doors, they were rather large stalls and everything was tiled: floors and walls. The tile work was absolutely first class. But once you make it to your stall you realize there’re no toilets nor toilet paper, just a long rectangular trough thru the middle of the floor. Pretty easy if you’re an Indian woman; one simply pulls up your dress. Quite another story for an American having to pull down your pants and somehow squat in mid-air without falling!
While standing in line the mother is holding the toilet paper like gold, unrolling some and giving her daughters some before their turn. “Here’s your toilet paper,” you hear her say. Go figure! Are you kidding me?!
#HeatherHarlow #toiletpaper #India #shittingfields #AreYouKiddingMe