Tuesday, April 18, 2006

In the beginning

The idea of a Good Loo Guide goes back almost 10 years, when I suggested it as a possible book to a friend who was then (and still is) in charge of commissioning new MSS for a well-known publishing house. You have restaurant guides, hotel guides, bar and pub guides—for all you know, even brothel guides (‘the sheets were clean, but there were two holes bored in the wall next to the bed’)—but no guide to the toilets of the world. Even the Hitch-Hikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, that indispensable vade-mecum for all interplanetary travellers, is strangely silent on this score. What does one do if one is in receipt of a sudden and urgent call of nature at midnight in, say, St Peter’s Square, Rome or Gariahater Mor, Calcutta? How does know which button to press for what in a public convenience in Kobe, Japan? How many minutes will elapse before the automatic door of a lavabo on Rue Moufftard swings open, exposing the occupant to the eyes of Gay Paree? What sort of pen is most suitable for writing graffiti on the walls of airport toilet cubicles? Is it possible to burnish wood with the toilet paper dispensed by the authorities at Otopeni Airport, Bucharest?

Questions of great pith and moment, you would think. But the men in grey who skulked in the S&M department of the publishing house (‘Sales and Marketing’, would you credit it?) nixed the proposal, saying they would not be able to sell the book, and besides, it would considerably lower the tone of their list! Huh!! Wait till you find yourself without a pot to piss in in a local train from Howrah to Rampurhat!!! (There is in fact such a train called Bamdeb Local between these two stations, notorious for its slowness and lack of loos. Technically, its engine is a DMU [Diesel Mechanical Unit] but is more popularly expanded as ‘Dada Moote Uthoon’ and ‘Didi Moote Uthben’. Note the extra courtesy extended to the dis of the species in the injunction.)

So, finally, almost after a decade of simmering on the back burner as it were, the Good Loo Guide is loosed upon the world, from a great height. The world will never be the same.

What will the GLG contain?

1. A list of loos for those inconvenient moments in time and space, in all the major world cities. If you have any loos to recommend, please post the location in the ‘Comments’ section, giving full details about opening hours, tariffs, softness of loo paper and so on.
2. A rating of all major loos, on a scale of one to five.
3. The loo in history: nothing less than a comprehensive history of toilets and its impact on human civilization.
4. Loo Read: what to read in the loo and what has been written about loos in world literature
5. Loos of the future: a loo(k) at what the future holds in store.

Let it begin.


Blogger babelfish said...

And the word was...Write!!!

11:10 AM  
Blogger Teleute said...

In the beginning was the word...

... to be followed by no other?

2:58 AM  
Blogger Erythrocyte said...

motto of your life: 'ei weekendei likhbo'......

hurry up!there're people waiting in a queue here!!!!

2:33 AM  
Blogger "sen"sational said...

i meant to tell this to you today at tolly...but dont know why i didnt when i did meet u...was kind of zonked out from seeing the play i guess...but just so that u know...ur bangla translation of shakespeare was brilliant... tell me was the 'thont jano kodapak' bit ur doing too???

11:33 AM  
Blogger Abhijit Gupta said...

thank you very much, though they used very little of my translation. for example, all of Hermia's speeches were rendered into bangla but Ukei used English instead. Sigh! I had fun doing the korapak speech though

12:02 PM  
Blogger babelfish said...

umm there's a section called private message on the blab forum, if you would be so kind as to check that :D

12:27 PM  
Blogger Deep said...

Check out the loo in The Pink Panther!

9:45 PM  
Blogger "sen"sational said...

ummm.... just one more question...u do know who i am don't u???

11:57 PM  
Blogger Abhijit Gupta said...

yes, i think i do

1:17 AM  
Blogger Teleute said...

Wonderful! I would like to contribute to this work - I am quite knowledgeable about loos in Calcutta, at least.

[Wise Smile]

2:09 AM  
Blogger Srin said...


7:45 AM  
Blogger The Alluder of Alliterations said...

There is the one at 8B terminus which is rather dingy but infinitely better than the JUDE loo... even though both stink, atleast at 8B it is diluted by diesel fumes and smoke from the roll tawa. It costs 50p to micturate and 1 Rupee to defecate. No paper availiable. Stalls are open so be prepared to have lecherous fruit sellers of dubious orientation leering at you. The walls are so dingy that the paint looks like graffiti between the dirt.. so pretty pointless trying to add your own.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Srin said...

Loo reading material depends on time of day.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I happen to know a thing or two about loos. Let's begin on home ground. As soon as you get down at 8B, you have two options either use the loo run by the KMC or piss beside the buses. Both are a spectator sport, for both are open to perverted eyes. One will require you to use your dirty hand to touch your wallet and the other will not. So there. When you enter through gate number 2, one loo is just beside Aurobindo Bhava's canteen on the ground floor. That loo doesn't have a mirror so you won't get to comb your hair. Proceed down further and you are near the CL. You have the Mettalurgical department and it's loos. Then you can use the loos in the UG Arts building. I used the ones beside Anita Banerjee Hall for the first few weeks I was in JU. Now I find it locked most of the time. The second cubicle in the men's loo on our floor is my favaourite. A sticker (or rather a removable tattoo) of a muscular girl on the wall infront of you is most interesting. That's all folks (for loos in JU). For knowledge about extra-JU loss, wait for the next instalment.

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you know?

Fact 1: The only men's loo in the New Market area (you can only urinate over here) is in Free School Street infront of Gaylords. (ahem!)

Fact 2: The only loo in the College Street area is inside College Square (it's a pay-and-use loo).

Fact 3: The only loo near Gariahata Anandamela is so famous that if you don't know it, you should piss on the road (It is the only loo which says "Abar ashiben").

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whispering words of wisdom...
1. If you see a petrol pump, it will have a men's loo.
2. There are no loos on Southern Avenue from Mouchak to Birla Acadmey (I verfied it on the Beckett day, so information needed about this area).
3. There is a pay-and-use toilet opposite Metro cinema.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Abhijit Gupta said...

it's not abar ashiben, it says 'abar ashobo phire, as in Jibanananda

9:09 AM  
Blogger Phõéníx said...

There is this wall urinal on Swinhoe Street (opposite Tasty Corner). It has a wall facing the street for the sake of privacy(and perhaps to prevent people from guessing how bad it is inside!)

I haven't ever used that one, however, a friend of mine tried...and well he entered from one end and didn't stop shuffling until he exited from the other end!

3:22 AM  
Blogger The Alluder of Alliterations said...

there is always over the side of a bridge or flyover .. even though i have never tried that some of my friebds have with enraged results.. remember to holler out "fore" before letting go to alert fishes/traffic below. Works best late at night when you are hopelessly drunk.

3:43 AM  
Blogger Insiya said...

Bhoot - Will it be appropriate here to call you a "loony"

Alluder - STOP GIVING IDEAS TO PEOPLE, WILL YOU??!! Guess will have to carry an umbrella from now on under bridges/flyover, for safety sake.

Oh btw, Bhoot, there is a pay-and-use coming up at golpark in front of RKM. I saw it the other day from the bus. Looks like it's still under construction.. They reacted to your plight pretty fast, don't you think?

7:59 AM  
Blogger Abhijit Gupta said...

thank you for the feedback, especially bhooter raja and alluder, both of whom seem to have a natural talent for this kind of research.

alluder--we are looking at proper loo practice here not peeing from flyovers though no doubt such an act is permissible in extremeties

bhoot-you have failed to mentionn there is a Rs 51 fine for washing clothes in the 8B toilet, also the fact that it has a condom vending machine

now who will do some research for me and tell me whether the said machine actually works, i.e. does it vend condoms, at what price and what brand?

Insiya--that pay and use opposite RKM has been under construction for a long time now: i think the project has been abandoned.

9:01 PM  
Blogger gideon the gorilla said...

why are there windows next to potties? that's what i want to know.

10:07 PM  
Blogger HAMLET POW POW POW said...

There was some lav somewhere in Paris with a prutty wittle fishie in the cistern. In a glass case in the glass cistern, really, so a lot of people did their business and ran out without flushing because they were afraid of flushing the fishie out with the flushables. I swear I read this in a newspaper somewhere.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Aishwarya said...

There's a toilet behind a dhaba somewhere between Manali and the Rohtang pass. It is advertised as having "running water". In reality, it is a shack made of corrugated iron, built over a little stream which is a runoff from a glacier or something. There are two stones on which to stand/squat. Outside is a sign that says "Toilet only. Yahaan tatti karna mana hai"

10:35 AM  
Blogger Deep said...

Correction. The loo I was alluding to features in The Party, another Peter Sellers starrer, and not The Pink Panther.
Also, aren't loos in trains amusing? You do your business, and there it falls, right on the tracks, for all to see and smell.

2:29 AM  
Blogger Illusionary said...

oooh i can contribute to loo reading material...I did all my Madhyamik maths in my loo..which has a transparent potty cover with 3-D fishes inside it.lol.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Srin said...

I know someone who thinks airline bathrooms works the same way as train bathrooms.

10:18 AM  
Blogger The Alluder of Alliterations said...

@ srin - i thi k that would lead to a lot of flyover like situations

10:47 AM  
Blogger Abhijit Gupta said...

however helicopter loos do, it is essentially a hole for peeing out of behind a curtain. but my friend the novelist Indy Hazra once went up with some minister after a biryani meal and felt the urge in mid-air. he then retired behind the curtain, asked for a barf bag as if he was about to throw up, made appropriate puking noises as he relieved himself with some accuracy into the narrow aperture of the bag and loosed the bag somewhere over the Himalayas. He even wrote this up in Outlook Traveller. ;Nuff said!

10:49 AM  
Blogger Phõéníx said...

Hmm...similar to loos in space in a way. Not very comfortable considering you've got a vacuum cleaner plugged up your arse!

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In addition to what I have told you, I have also found out that the brand is 'Ustad'.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Soumik said...

for bhoot:

between mouchak and birla academy there used to be this public urinal along the divider in southern av. but since the widening of golpark and supposed beautification of the area, it has vanished.

Coll street-e loo nei mane? bini payshay coffeee house-e sere ashbe.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Deep said...

Yes! The condom dispenser at the 8B Loo gives u a pack of 3 Ustad Condoms (Electronically Tasted for 100% Safety) for a 5 buck coin. Now I wonder if someone would be intrepid enough to use it and tell...

7:39 PM  
Blogger The Alluder of Alliterations said...

i am going to bake you some ginger cookies... the fishy will vouch for the fact that i do sudden random acts of kindness to spread joy and cheer all over the world

9:36 AM  
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8:01 PM  

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