The World Is Your Toilet

By Amy Chavez
For The Bali Times

Mark your calendars. No, not for the Asian Beach Games, but for World Toilet Day on November 19. Don’t tell me later that you didn’t have enough time to prepare for it.
You’re probably wondering: Do we really need a World Toilet Day? Oh, butt, yes! It’s a shame it has taken us so long to be able to officially appreciate toilets.
You think toilets are smelly places? Well consider this. It’s not the toilet that is smelly; it’s you.
Feeling guilty now? World Toilet Day is a chance for you to make up with your toilet and to spend some quality time together. Because, believe it or not, you have a relationship with your toilet that is almost scary. Don’t even try to deny it. Think of all those times, on urgent business, you have rushed to meet your toilet. And those middle-of-the-night rendezvous? Sometimes more than once (gasp)! And when you’ve been drinking, you refuse to stay very far away from your beloved toilet. It’s no wonder toilets have such a big head.
Really, in order for us humans to regain our proper position in the hierarchy, we ought to take control of our toilets, instead of letting them control us. This is what World Toilet Day is for.
I presume that World Toilet Day isn’t exclusive to private toilets but includes public ones and especially all those named John. But once we get into the subject of public toilets, it gets harder to define exactly what a toilet is.
If we define a toilet as: water, a bowl and a hole, we still aren’t narrowing it down enough for public toilets. In Indonesia, even rivers double as toilets. Talk about flow!
The water, a bowl and a hole definition also doesn’t include all the countless places men pee into, such as the gutter, the roadside or anywhere else outside. Clearly, all you really need to constitute a toilet is a “permeation point.” And when you think about it, animals don’t use toilets. The world is their toilet. Thus, World Toilet Day.
But if we just say that World Toilet Day is reserved for those with water, a bowl and a hole, then I’d like to offer some tips on what you can do for your toilet on its special day.
The first thing to remember is that you don’t want your toilet to stand out among the others and attract attention, or else everyone will want to use your toilet. This is the very reason it’s so hard to find a good public toilet in Bali. If you did, there would always be a long line. As it is now, you never see a line in front of toilets. That’s because no one wants to use them.
This is probably the reason most Western-style public toilets in Bali don’t have a seat. A toilet seat only allows people to sit and stay longer. As no one wants to put their butt, or “upper hamstrings” if you will, down on a toilet with no seat, it’s a sure way to get people to pee and dash. It’s kind of like saying, “Go ahead and use this toilet, but I hope you know how to hover.”
All toilets should be hygienic. So on World Toilet Day, give yours a good rubdown with an au de toilette, facial scrub and other toiletries to make it clean and fragrant.
If you haven’t already, line the bathroom door with metal sheeting. I don’t know why; just do it. There must be some reason locals do this besides waterproofing.
Always offer soap so people can wash their hands. Strawberry liquid hand soap is de rigueur.
You know that rusty nail that’s used as a door latch? And the others serving as hooks for clothing? Replace them with shiny new nails.
But the real reason for World Toilet Day is to bring awareness to the fact that over two billion people in the world do not have access to basic sanitation.
So the next time you complain to me about something that irks you about life in Bali, I’m not going to take your crap. Just be thankful you have a toilet.
Now go appreciate your toilet, whether it’s one of those new sleek ones, an outhouse or a garden. Or just call out a hearty “Thanks” to nature itself.

Amy, who is in touch with her inner latrine, is at

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