The squat toilet isn’t really a toilet, as we in the West understand the word. The “squat” portion of the name is accurate, but the “toilet” is really just a hole in the floor into which you poop, then pour in some water as a chaser. I believe they call it a toilet because “poop hole” was already trademarked. Drawing upon my experiences traveling through India, I’d like to share with you my hard-won tips and tricks for doing your business in the developing world.
Now, few people know this but the squat toilet was invented by an early side-branch of humans who had a third eye in their butt. That’s the only explanation I can think of, at least. No amount of twisting and turning is going to give you an accurate idea of where things will end up and whether or not you’ll have to buy new shoes. Fancier toilets have small footpads that at least provide a starting point for a successful drop. These are designed with people of a smaller stature in mind and given the natural variance of leg lengths and body types (and factoring in the Doppler Effect), it’s pretty much a crap shoot. Yes, I went there.
But fear not! Follow these 5 easy steps and you’ll soon be pooping like a native.
Step 1: Steeling Yourself
If you’re like most Westerners, you’re feeling pretty apprehensive at this point and would rather just avoid the whole situation. If so, simply say this to yourself as many times as needed: “I’m thousands of miles from home and I’m about to shit my pants.” Now, say it one more time just to gain a sense of urgency. Console yourself with the fact that no one knows you here — if they do, they’re probably waiting for you to hurry up so they can have their turn.
Step 2: Getting in Position
With your toilet paper nearby (bring your own), drop your drawers, straddle the toilet, and assume a position as if you were about to launch yourself off a ski jump. I’ve found that making “vroom vroom” noises at this point tends to get things moving along, but maybe that’s just me. I’ve also found that reaching down with one hand and pulling your twisted pants and undies up and forward lessens the chances of “surprises”, as well as keeps them from touching the ground (which will be disgusting). The other arm should be kept free for wiping and for flailing about when you lose your balance.
Step 3: Praying
This part is easy: say a few words to the deity of your choice and let nature take it’s course.
Step 4: Wiping
There is quite a bit of debate about what to do at this point. Squat plumbing is generally gravity-fed and toilet paper tends to clog things up. If you insist on depositing your paper in the toilet, the entire hotel staff will hate you and will certainly do ugly things to your food and drink. Hence the phrase “Never shit where you eat.”
Bonus Tip: Due to the fact that squats are gravity-fed, your poop will sometimes hang around for a bit. Please be considerate of your fellow travelers and avoid eating cork or balsa wood.
If you choose not to flush (ha!) your paper, deposit it in the trash can which is often nowhere to be found. If there is a trash can, it will most likely be placed behind you and well out of arm’s reach. Moving the trash can before you started would have been a great idea.
Step 5: All Over but the Crying
That’s it! You’re done. If everything went well, I recommend buttoning up, washing your hands until they bleed, and walking out with your head held high. If it didn’t go well, run straight to your room, take a shower, and change pants.