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Bathroom wait

By Nickunj Malik - Aug 02,2017 - Last updated at Aug 02,2017

In India, unlike many other countries in the world, there is no social stigma attached in announcing loudly that you want to go to the toilet. Nobody uses fine terminology like ‘I am going to powder my nose’, or ‘he is answering the call of nature’ or ‘she is washing her hands’ as euphemisms for visiting a lavatory. In fact, there was a phase when all the people from Bollywood, our celebrated film industry, were found for long periods in their respective bathrooms. Whenever you called them on the phone, that is.

These days one sees photographs of film stars splashed all over the social media, carrying a fancy cell-phone in their hands that whenever it rings, they presumably answer themselves. But before the introduction of the mobiles, all of them had landline connections that were handled by other people, like their assistants, butlers or man Fridays. And the most popular response to any phone call was ‘Sorry, Sir is in the bathroom’ or ‘Madam can’t talk to you right now, she’s in the bathroom’. 

If one was persistent, more details would emerge about the actors like ‘Sir is taking a shower’, or ‘Madam is having a bath’. Even if you did not want to know the specifics about where exactly they had reached in his/her grooming ritual, you were provided it anyway. 

In one particular instance, I called up this celebrity that I was supposed to interview for a newsmagazine daily, for an entire week, on the number that was provided to me by his agent. It was picked up every time after the first few rings. The voice on the phone was always courteous and greeted me politely. But I was never connected to the person I wanted to speak to because, you guessed it right. He was constantly in the bathroom! So permanent was his presence there that I was convinced that he suffered from constipation, running stomach or other types of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I mean, why else would he prefer to be cooped up in his toilet for such lengthy intervals? Either that or he was a compulsive bather, who can tell? 

It is documented that the Tudor monarchs had company even when they visited the lavatory. The ‘groom of stool’ was the person who attended to the Sovereign and he was an important man whose office was highly prized. He spent more time alone with the Ruler than anyone else and very often became his most trusted confidant. This regular access gave him great power.

King Louis XIV’s toilet was designed to look like another throne which he supposedly used while conducting court sessions. A replica of this can be viewed at the International Museum of Toilets, an unusual collection of bizarre loos from down the ages, in New Delhi. It contains hundreds of ancient specimens from across the globe, including a French one that is disguised as a bookcase. The vast assortment of commodes and bidets has been curated to mark the history of sanitation. 

Running late for a meeting recently, I impulsively decide to adopt the toilet manners of our famous Bollywood stars. 

“Your phone is ringing,” my husband calls out. 

“Who is calling?” I ask.

“Blogger Dellybelly,” he reads out the caller identity. 

“Please tell him I’m in the bathroom,” I instruct. 

“But you are not there,” he protests.

“Just say it, will you?” I dictate. 


“Hello, sorry my wife is in the bathroom,” my spouse improvises reluctantly.

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This could have as well used the title of the to be shortly launched Hindi movie - Toilet Ek Prem Katha, translated as Toilet a love story. Though man adopted the middle ground as the centre of his phenomenal thinking prowess as the gut, as in gut instinct, the epicentre of thought is always debated between the head and the nether end. The best human inspirations are attributable to the time in the toilet. Probably thoughts get pushed out in the same manner as what is euphemistically called as night soil or maybe they are worth roughly the same. Who knows? Profound and Fundamental have so much in common.

I must protest against the alleged lack of Victorian prudery amongst Indians whilst referring to their"base"r urges. We call it No 2. Guess what No 1 would be.

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