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What to do if you NEED to “go!” Public toilets in India

There are simply things not done in polite society… and yet when there are no easy ways to do what most consider rather private activities, it becomes a very public matter.

My favourite walking spot is the promenade with a view of the Bandra Sea Link. I’ll never forget one time I watched a mother patiently help her young daughter learn how to squat and defecate over a drainage hole. If you live on the streets, it is certainly a better alternative than many other options.

So the other day, I was delighted to see colourfully painted public toilets for men and women… set up to service the labour community that has sprung up next to the Sea Link promenade to build the new metro station. How fabulous!

Except, despite appearances and it being a terrific initiative, they don’t work. At all.

Instead, they stand locked, testament to a great idea with infuriatingly poor execution. Clearly money was spent to set them up, but not to actually keep them functioning.

It is hard not to be cynical. Until GST, on every transaction an additional 0.5% cess was paid to raise funds for “Clean India” i.e. Swachh Bharat… which is best seen in propaganda paintings supporting the government agenda of the day rather than real change.

As a woman, I dare you to find a decent public toilet outside of fancy malls…. that works.

However I remain optimistic. I take hope in the efforts of individuals who work to improve things… despite the odds.

PS – Interestingly this post prompted racist hate mail, naturally by a man, offended that I was concerned that time, money, effort went into something which could serve public good but doesn’t. Because after all “Foreigners like you have only to say shit things about India like any typical Westerners.” Hmm… I suppose having a life linked directly with India since 1990, nearly 20 years calling India home means nothing and I’m not entitled to have an opinion as my origins are outside India. I wonder if that same individual, if living in say Canada, would believe he has no right to be concerned about something he finds potentially positive but frustratingly not fulfilling its mandate?

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