Saturday, April 25, 2009

You Don't Want To Know What's In This Basket (Especially You, Mom!)

This is a blog I probably shouldn't write. But since most of the oddities we've experienced in China have really faded into the background (is that assimilation?), this type of thing, which would freak most people out (it did freak me out when we first arrived), is worth a mention.

You see, the plumbing in China, which must originate in the Tang Dynasty, is awful. In fact, it can't handle much more than, say, "number one." Therefore, most bathrooms, public and most private, contain these baskets for the disposal of all paper products. Yes, all. In this way, the aromatic essence of many restroom facilities is a bit less than pleasant. Luckily, many bathrooms also have an ayi on hand to constantly empty these unpleasantries. Some also burn incense to ward off the nasal assault.

On the aside, what I've come to realize about the squat-toileted, toilet paper-free, incense-to-cover-up-the-smell bathrooms in China, is that Chinese people in general are just not "moved" by waste. Bathrooms, except for those in western standard apartments and shopping malls, whose facilities are indistinguishable from those in the US, are simply a place to take care of business, and they don't spend much time thinking about it. In addition, since the focus of the country is on the group rather than the individual, privacy is not a prized possession. So while most bathrooms have stalls, most of the time even the women don't shut the doors.

What has our solution been to all of this? Just get over it. Make it quick, don't breath in much, don't look around, bring your own TP, and have some Purell on hand.

And to answer the question you're thinking but probably won't ask...No, we don't have one of those baskets in our apartment! But, the plunger is always at the ready.


PS: If you e-mail me, I will NOT send you a photo of what's inside. It's even too gross for a mother-of-two, biology teacher to snap.


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