May 31, 2017

The loo with the view

The only time I envy my fellow travelers of the opposite sex is when we need to use a loo while travelling in remote areas. The male members of the group discreetly retreat behind anything that half hides them while we female members run around looking for a place where we can go about our business in relative privacy.

The biggest challenge comes while traveling in the mountains. The well-traveled routes usually have washrooms that may be nothing more than just a canvas covering three sides. But, however rudimentary at least they offer you some privacy. 

As you go higher up, even these basic amenities are missing. When you love mountains and your idea of traveling is to go to far flung obscure places where most of mankind in the form of noisy tourists has not reached, please remember that Vidya Balan and her Shauchalaya abhiyan has not reached there either. 

At first, you spend your time marveling at the unspoiled and pristine beauty. Then there comes a time when you’ve had enough of the scenery and all you can think of is of your discomfort because you need to go to the loo. The subzero temperature and the endless cups of hot tea that you have gulped do not help matters at all. The scenic mountains, the pine trees, the pretty sheep dotting the valley hold no interest to you and the flowing rivers only serve to remind you that well .. you need to go. So while your co-passengers might think that you have your nose stuck to the window coz you love the view all you are doing is looking for anything that might act as a pit stop.

But for miles and miles, all you can see is desolate mountains or vast valleys that are devoid of a single shrub or rock you can go behind. You are on the verge of bursting when you see an area that has rocks big enough to act as temporary loos, you scream at the driver to stop, grab some tissues from your bag and make a beeline for it. 

The search for the perfect rock ! 
Obviously for the not so seasoned travelers going in the open tends to be a pain and primitive beyond anything they have ever experienced. But tell me, isn’t the view from your outdoor loo much better that the white or light pink tiles and walls we usually stare at in the normal boring loos. Imagine looking up at snow peaks, mighty deodars and pine trees or a vast valley covered with little flowers spread right before your eyes as you go about your job.

But remember, never to get so engrossed in the view that you don’t even look where you are going. The grass that you are just about to water hides insects and even leeches that can turn your behind into an itchy mess in minutes.

In one of our treks, one of the ladies went and sat down without seeing and got a leech stuck to her fair and ample bottom. On another trip, a girl jumped up and shrieked in alarm because there was a small rodent like animal intently watching her as she took a tinkle. To be fair, more than anything else the poor animal must have been rather alarmed to see a huge strange animal staking its territory in what the poor animal thought was his territory.

Camping in the open has its own “pitfalls”. Unless you are staying at a campsite that will probably have makeshift loos, you need to go out in the open. Searching for that suitable place in the dark is not funny especially when every twig that breaks seems like a bear about to charge you. Even proper campsites are not without their own adventure. The tent serving as the washroom is usually away from the other tents and the lighting there is rather poor at its best. One friend set out for her nightly ablutions armed with a huge torch. Somehow she ended up dropping the torch down the hole, so now none of us could see where we were going, only where we had been.

What I have learnt over the years is to grab a chance to use the loo where you stop. Be it a dhabha or someone’s house or a petrol station; go even if you don’t need to coz you never know where the next pit stop is going to be and what it’s going to be like.

Another thing that my travels have taught me is that an umbrella or a shawl do much more than simply shielding you from the sun or protecting you from the cold. In the absence of anything else, they help in protecting your modesty from the eyes of strangers.

Traveling is an adventure and traveling off the beaten track to areas that give you nothing in the form of basic facilities can either be a great ordeal or an adventure of a life time. It simply depends on your perspective.

The outdoor loos may not offer you the best of amenities but they do offer you something even better – a view that you will never forget.

18 comments:

  1. Ohh dear, I can so relate to this. Had a similar experience when I visited hometown last year. I had to go in the fields and look for some really tall wild plants to hide behind it. As more and more people are become outdoorsy, we really really need toilets... Clean toilets...

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    1. You bet ! India has so much to offer as far as outdoors is concerned. I just wish we had better amenities !

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  2. A very practical and entertaining issue to raise indeed!! I too remember dancing on one leg and then the other, trying to find a suitable place!!

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    1. Oh hopping on the seat, diverting my mind, dancing on one leg ... I've done them all :-) Thanks for reading Roshni.

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  3. Tell me about it. Loos are such an issue and not just in the mountains. I remember that I wanted to go desperately when we were enroute to Jaisalmer and the landscape offered nothing of proper cover. With 3 boys at home, everyone stays looking avidly for assume bush, tree or rock. 😊 Like you I go at every loo we stop at. Wish there were better loo options. Funny post.

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    1. Thanks for reading Rachna. Yes, our country does lack in basic amenities for travelers specially in remote areas. Jaisalmer would have been terrible with just sand for miles around and no cover :-)

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  4. Thank you for the reminder why I chose to never go up a mountain unless the destination is a five star facility, with facilities! πŸ˜„

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    1. As I say mah dear, it's all about perspective :-)

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  5. I had my fill of adventure just reading your post.
    Meanwhile I'm sticking to 5 star loos with no views.

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    1. Thanks for reading Purba ! 5 star loos have views to btw. The loos at Orccha Palace look out to a spectacular views of hills :-P

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  6. No wonder I don't go trekking up in the mountains. The idea of a leech behind is horrifying. :))

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    1. It's a whole lot of adventure. Not for the faint hearted !

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  7. Time to travel together again? and chalk up experiences?

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  8. I read this thrice! But I waited to comment coz I was laughing so hard. I have peed in the valleys of Manali and I remember searching for a suitable place in that pristine, white landscpae. Also on roads and oh god, you name it! Well, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Those were the times I wished I had was a man, seriously. You know, stand and hose it down. This was a fun read, Ruch. By God, you need to write more. Travel toh tum kar hi leti ho, kaise bhi karke. Keep them coming. MWah!

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    1. I am telling you, these guys just standing and hosing it down while we run helter skelter for a suitable place. Thank you so much for reading :-)

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  9. Hey that is a good business venture .. have portable loos and charge :) imagine how much can be earnd he he he he :)

    and yeah some benefit of being a man I guess he he he :)

    Bikram's

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    1. I am telling you Who ever starts this business venture will make millions out of it !

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