Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Toilet versus Slovenly

There’s an article in Kompas of how certain people in Indonesia were put their attention in toilet environment, public or individual.

Naning Adiwoso, Chairman and Founder of the Indonesia Toilet Operators Association, stated that the toilet could reflect the culture of the country. Compare to other Asian country, Indonesia were still left behind, even though there’s an improvement in certain Public Toilet. She also pointed out of the disease from bacterial in squat toilet were higher compare to sit-down toilet.

The interesting part of her comment was the cleanness toilet in Beringharjo traditional market in Jogja, Central Java, Indonesia. It was located in the traditional market and yet the toilet was clean.

Phew, culture and toilet …; I’m hundred percent agree, but does it mean that we are slovenly nation just because of dirty toilet ?

There’s a whole nature vs nurture debate (copying my blogger friend comment, gj) if we would like to discuss the connection between slovenly nation and dirty toilet.

I completely agree that there’s a connection between culture and the way people use the toilet. Asian people, in their culture, they know squat toilet first before they interact with sit-down toilet. Therefore, when they interact with sit-down toilet, they feel uncomfortable or the worst part, they copied the way they use squat toilet, in the name of “cleanness”.

The other reasons also the concept of “dryness” toilet. In western country, the way western people take a bath were different than Asian. The concept of Asian bathroom, do not recognize bathtub or shower, therefore there is no “dry” area in Asian bathroom, different with western.

So, when Asian people have to wash their genitals after urinating, it is difficult for them to use a toilet paper. Asian people will back to their culture like the dryness bathroom. Toilet paper versus water, it’s like our campaign of “Green World”.

Go to China, and you would see the difference. Their airport in Nanjing do not have sit-down toilet only in the Hotel. In their office, don’t ever dream that you would find sit-down toilet.

I bet, for people who always sit-down toilet, every time they have to urinate it’s really a nightmare.

In Indonesia, if you go to small city, especially in the airport, there are two choices, sit-down toilet and squat toilet.

Back to the issue, cleanness toilet versus slovenly nation, I have to say that it depends on the person itself not the nation, because even in Europe, their public toilet not always clean, there’s still smelly toilet.

Therefore, I must say, yes there’s a connection between culture and the toilet, since cleanness depends on the person itself. Government can only push people to understand the concept of cleanness.

If we would like to start it at the airport, then like other Asian country, we have to put the cleaning service there, monitor the work of the cleaning service and not pretend that the cleaning service already clean the public area, the toilet area. Manage the amenities of public toilet, like toilet paper and hand soap. That is how we start the concept of cleanness and dryness toilet.

Last night I went to Shell toilet, and to my surprise the toilet was clean. They use the concept of sit-down toilet. Compare to our public toilet area, the scale is ten versus one. Shell toilet was cleanest compare to our beloved Soekarno-Hatta airport.

I have traveled to every city, in every condition, used different public toilet in different occasion, sometimes I have to used people’s toilet, and to my surprises also, in the village, I could find descent and cleanness toilet.

Can’t say a culture or even the nation, the right way to say is the People. In public area, have to say the Government.


Elyani said...

Lalita, my Singaporean lady boss told me that she has had a hard time telling her newly employed China girl who always forgot to flush after dropping her stomach waste. The girl has been warned and told but alas she appeared to have a short memory loss when it comes to cleannes...LOL! Only then I knew from a friend who often travels to China that toilet behaviour in China is horrible if not disgusting. My friend told me toilets in smaller provinces are intoleraby smelly and far away. I think Indonesians sense of cleanliness in general are better off than Chinese people in mainland China. Am not being prejudice here but that's what I was being told of.

GJ said...

Hi there,

Sorry i have been so rude in the past by not stopping by your blog as I know you visit mine. thanks for the mention and can I please link you on my site??


I need more time to comment on the whole toilet culture thing especially as a sit-down dry environment type person


GJ said...

Ok Back to comment,

A few observations with toilets, and this is general and I acknowledge that there will be exceptions on both sides.

Generally, there is less disease in a dry environment as opposed to a wet environment. Typhoid for example is unheard of in my country Australia and we have large areas of tropics so this is not an arguement. Typhoid is relatively common here, Fav Girl has fallen victim to this. It is spread from improper hygiene practices, not washing (with soap) and drying hands for example (not her practice but from someone who then handled her food preparation).

In a wet environment, and this is my bias coming through here, it is more difficult for me as it is like toileting in a swamp!! There is higher probability of having your clothing wet. The effort is so much greater as you try to carry out your business and manage your belongings so you can exit in roughly the same condition, and not looking like coming from Waterbom.

The difference in washing and wiping, well personally I like both, how some people manage to spray the walls, ceiling, floor and all fittings is beyond me (I'm talking about the sit down with hose type toilets here)It is just plain messy and inconsiderate.

Many times the sewerage system can not handle tissue so this is then deposited in a bin, this is less than hygienic but I understand the reasons and is unavoidable.

My general observation here in Jakarta is a very high percentage of people fail to wash the hands after toileting. This is not helped by the fact that many times there is no soap or tissue/Dryer to aid.

Obviously my preference is for the style I know and are familiar with, it has is advantages and disease is the major one, but when you have to go, you have to go, so any port in a storm they say.


Sorry for such a long comment maybe it should have been a post.

nadia febina said...

hi tere..
dont know about the style, should not be the same here and there otherwise world would be so boring i guess.. but cleanliness is for sure the key.

thats why i think Indonesia needs to take care AT LEAST Soekarno-Hatta WC. Impressions in airports is so important for the country's image.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog

tere616 said...

Elyani : Yes, your friend's right. When I was there, I've to work in one of the biggest IT company in Nanjing, their toilet was stingy and all of them is a squat-down toilet. Compare to them, ours are much better than them.

But, if we're talking about Airport, we are the worst.

GJ : It's okay :-) Back to your comment, it should be a post, but I like it. Yes, there's an exception for both sides, but as you said, people here, most of the time, ignore the cleaness in the toilet, besides the use of the spray.

Just recently, when I was at Shell public toilet, again, there's a woman who use the spray and make the toilet like a flood :-(

Well, if we're talking about people and their habit, it would be more than 1 pages long.

Like you say, I prefer dry toilet instead of wet toilet. But if I have to go, then I have to go ...

Nadia : Couldn't agree than you Nadia, at least our government should take care our Soekarno-Hatta airport toilet, the worst public toilet in International Airport especially compare to Shell Gas Pump :-(

Anonymous said...

absotutely agree, it's not what kind of toilet system that will affect one's culture; it's how you use the system. be it sitting down or squatting, wiping with hand and water or toilet paper, that won't determine how cultural you are. open mindedness, willing to try something new (not necessarily has to travel outside the country; a visit to a restaurant who serves food other than your 'usual food' could be a mind opener too), and accept differences; would help one to be more cultural.

tere616 said...

Dinysays : Yup, 100 % agree with you. The problem, people here, especially the one who has the power, most of the time, always use different meaninng to emphasize the purpose of their goal :-(

Anonymous said...

I am not sure where you are going with the 80/20 rule, but Pareto stated that 20 percent of the population owned 80 percent of the wealth. This is found in not only Italy, but many other countries, and even globally.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure where you are going with the 80/20 rule, but Pareto stated that 20 percent of the population owned 80 percent of the wealth. This is found in not only Italy, but many other countries, and even globally.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure where you are going with the 80/20 rule, but Pareto stated that 20 percent of the population owned 80 percent of the wealth. This is found in not only Italy, but many other countries, and even globally.