When I was leaving the US after a 12 year sojourn to return to India, I was warned by my well-wishers about culture shock (over the 12 years plus, I had not visited India). Well, while I appreciated the warning, it was totally unnecessary because I had assiduously prepared myself to expect the worst. To be frank about it, my preparations did better than stand me in good stead, as for one, the situation in India had changed much for the better since the time I left.
There was one thing though that I never could reconcile myself to and this is regarding the toilet habits of Indians. No, I do not mean squatting on road side. No, not at all. It is rather about the toilet seats in (western style) commodes in homes – what we do to it, where we leave it.
In western culture, the default position of the toilet seat is down. This is to ensure that even a careless lady or a lady in a hurry will not sink into the commode while using it. This necessarily demands of the man, while using the toilet bowl for urinating, that he lifted it up first, carried out what he came for and put it down as he left. That is, the implicit priority is for the woman.
But, in India, men are uncouth. The toilet seat is always up. Woe betide the woman who did not notice it! Here, the men assert their authority. But, that is, in fact, better. What is worse is many men do not even check whether the seat is up before aiming the fire hose.
This is the culture shock I have repeatedly experienced in the last nearly 24 years after my return. I never prepared myself for this. Therefore, I have never reconciled myself with the status quo.
Sorry for coming in one day late, what with Women’s Day having been celebrated yesterday.