We start with a story from last year that has resurfaced in my newsfeed from the Tigrigna site, all about a Chinese man who accidentally dropped his smartphone down the toilet and then reached down to get it back. Unfortunately, not only could he not reach his phone, but he got his arm stuck. This was a squat toilet, so he was essentially plunging his hand into a pit of poo. He was there for six hours until firefighters came, broke the tiles and the toilet and managed to extract him. It makes me queasy to even think about.
I don’t know a lot about Bhutan, but yesterday’s editorial in the Bhutanese newspaper Kuensel drew my attention to the politics of toilets there. The editor takes a stern tone on toilets, saying that even though locals don’t complain about them, tourists with US dollars frequently complained that there were no public toilet facilities and that they wouldn’t come back if this wasn’t changed. He concedes that if toilets were built for tourists, then they could also be used by Bhutanese, but in general, he takes a somewhat condescending tone with his fellow citizens, reproving them for the fact that they misuse the toilets they have, pointing to signs in public toilets reminding people to flush after themselves and not to climb up and squat on Western-style toilets. It’s impossible for me not to feel some guilt as the West really has a massive array of ways of shaming the people of the developing world, infiltrating even how they view their own way of sitting on their toilets.
Staying in Asia, today’s Japan Times celebrates the launch of a new waterless toilet. It is not the first waterless biotoilet. However, it is the first one that deals satisfactorily with the smell of poo. By grinding your poo up with sawdust. It can be set up anywhere and its main use will be in emergencies like after a tsunami or an earthquake when it can be installed in a matter of minutes.
And our final story today also comes from Japan. Tushy was invented by a half-Japanese woman who had grown up with bidets and was disgusted by the American use of toilet paper. As she says, if a bird pooed on your face, you wouldn’t simply wipe it off with paper. You would wash it with water. Why are our bottoms any different? This was why she invented the Tushy, a clip-on bidet that makes any toilet Japanese.