Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wet bathroom floors

A couple of my friends Americans/Europeans who have married Egyptians have mentioned a couple of times that they cannot fathom how bathroom floors in Egypt are always wet.

As an Indian, I find a lot of similarities in the Egyptian way of life, this water on the bathroom floor is one of them.

From an Indian perspective. Showers came into the scene just maybe 30-40 years ago. I remember my grandparents house had this really ancient shower head attached but no one really used it because it could only give out cold water. Water heaters for the bathroom came in much later. I won't digress into how water used to be heated, its a long story.

bathtubs are a relatively modern concept (20 years - except maybe those who imported their tubs or the really pricey hotels - 5 star type) in the Indian scenario. So to take a bath you normally used a bucket and had the whole bathroom floor to wet or you used a shower and still had the whole bathroom floor to wet. The floors were and are still built to handle the drainage of the whole bathroom floor. The toilet used to be a separate room. There are sometimes sinks in the dining room that you use to wash your hands before and after meals. So the bathroom was literally that - the BATH room. So that room was always wet all over and you had a mat to wipe your feet when you came out.

Bathtubs are still not very common in Indian homes although in the new high rises a lot of builders are putting them in, to make their apartments look more "hep". We like having a lot of space to move around when taking a shower (I so hate having to stand inside a tub and take a shower - because the tubs here are just enough to stand sideways) Also in general - we don't have the time to soak in a tub (it is considered an extravagant waste of time and water in most middle class households) ergo very few tubs. And since a lot of houses still have the WC and the bath rooms separate there is no need for shower separators or shower curtains.

Coming to my opposite problem.

When I was in the US. I did wash most of my clothes in the washing machine (yes, we did have washing machines in India- if you are wondering LOL) but the really delicate embroidery and lacey clothes, I do not like putting in the machine even on the delicate cycle. I still wash these by hand.

So I washed them and wrung them out. Because they were very delicate, they were quite weightless too (not lingerie but weighed about that much) and I hung it on the shower curtain rod to drip dry in my bathroom. In about 30 minutes, I had my downstairs neighbour ringing my bell, that water was seeping from my bathroom into hers. The problem was the clothes dripping on the shower rod. The water from one end was falling inside the tub and getting drained, but the water from the other side was falling on the bathroom floor and had nowhere to go. It must have been half a litre tops, but it seeped into the floor below.

So thats why, I figure Americans are so worried about keeping the water inside the tub, while we are not. And I'm sure my downstairs neighbour is still cursing the stupid Indian neighbours while I can't fathom the logic of not having a drainage in the main section of the bathroom thats apart from the shower and bath area.

Especially because we truly believe that you need water to clean out something properly, not just paper(kitchen/toilet rolls) & vaccums.

It quite disgusted me, that I could never scrub the main bathroom floors in the US with water and bleach to kill off all the bacteria on the floor. And those fluffy covers atop the WC's and the toilet tank - I don't get those either - breeding grounds for germs I say! no matter how pretty they may look.

Has anyone heard why you need to keep your toothbrush at least 4 feet away from the toilet or inside a closed cupboard. Same logic for those fluffy covers. There is a huge hygienic sense in having the WC and the bath room separate, but today in the interests of space, most new constructions in India too, club the 2.

My 2 piastres worth.


Rhonda said...

Thanks for the info! This comes closest to really explaining why my egyptian husband 'loves to make the bathroom wet'. I was so naive about how other cultures perform toiletries. It is amazing how different we all are?

Twilight Fairy said...

Interesting post :). At least in Europe I have seen drainage apart from the WC/sink. Thank heavens for that! And Europe tends to use water and paper towels both. I dont understand how one can stick ONLY to paper towels!

Aaron said...

Another possible explanation, if there are Muslims around, is splash-off from performing the wudu, or ritual cleansing prior to prayer. This consists of cleaning many parts of the body including the feet, face, etc. I have seen security guards at AUC sticking their feet into the sinks in the bathrooms of most of the building prior to prayer.

Kim said...

Thanks Aaron,

I did cover wudu in a subsequent post.

And that is another major reason, especially in the houses/places where people pray 5 times a day.

Anonymous said...

Good article & info and you covered all sides. Thanks.

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