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Men urinate in the open without concern for hygiene or public judgment; in sharp contrast, women risk urinary infections and eternally long lines to relieve themselves.
Once upon a time, I embarked on overnight trips from my workplace to my hometown, by bus. On one such trip, I committed the blunder of drinking too much water. This bus had only one halt in the middle, and at that point in time, the pitstop was at least three hours ahead. I tried not to think about the pressing situation (pun intended) on hand.
Along the way, one of the men on the bus decided that he had to urinate; he requested the driver to stop. He along with a group of men alighted and headed towards a secluded spot by the roadside. I dutifully turned my face away from the window, as did the other women on the bus. The men did their business in the open and returned to the bus with an air of nonchalance.
After what seemed an eternity, we finally reached the pitstop where there was a toilet. It was extremely dirty and there was a long queue. But it was a toilet, and that was all that mattered! By the time it was my turn, I was almost in tears. For the remainder of the journey, I refused to touch a drop of water. I would rather die of thirst than endure this ordeal, once more. That day I wished I were born a man instead of a woman. Men urinated in the open without concern for hygiene or public judgment; their gender granted them potty privileges.
In sharp contrast, women risk urinary infections and eternally long lines to relieve themselves. Biology did us badly, but popular culture did us worse. In the movies, men peeing in public is considered normal, a symbol of brotherhood, an act of masculinity. Many important conversations happen while the ‘bros’ are peeing. An actor in a regional movie once remarked, “it’s OK to piss in public, but not kiss in public.” The irony. If only the moral police turned their attention to matters of hygiene and decency the stink could be considerably reduced!
It’s been years since my bladder-bursting bus trip. That memory resurfaced due to the recent spate of incidents that have occurred mid-air. By now, everyone must be aware of the infamous ‘peegate’ where an inebriated man on a New York-Delhi flight allegedly urinated over a 70-year-old woman. He was the VP of a foreign bank, and if this charge is proven true, this kind of behaviour is unbecoming of him. Shockingly, this is not an isolated case.
A 39-year-old drunken man was arrested for allegedly urinating at a gate in the departure area of terminal-3 of Delhi airport on his way to Saudi Arabia. Another episode involved a drunken man peeing on the blanket of a female passenger on a Paris-New Delhi flight. This was less publicized as the matter was ‘amicably’ resolved and the female passenger did not press a complaint.
What is this unholy nexus between alcohol, air, and public peeing? What motivates men to pee in airports and mid-air? Is it the alcohol, the fear of flying, or just plain male entitlement?
Here are potential solutions to solve the public peeing problems on flights. (To be taken with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of sarcasm)
Passengers traveling in this class shall be seated away from the non-peeing class. The seats in the peeing class come with attached foldable urinals, curtains, and air fresheners. The passengers in the peeing class would be ‘Members of the Mile High Pee Club’ and they would have to purchase flight tickets at a premium.
Adult diapers to sold along with alcoholic beverages. If you wish to get sloshed, make sure you have diapers on you. Annual membership of the Mile High Pee Club should ensure a free supply of diapers, else purchase them in-flight for a king’s ransom.
Perhaps, the solution is to extend the ‘dry day’ concept to mid-air as well? Alcohol can be purchased mid-air but is to be consumed only on the ground (this opens the possibility of an alcohol ‘flying’ surcharge!) Passengers please note; strictly no sneaking and drinking in the loo; this inappropriate dalliance between alcohol and the loo (or the lack of it) landed us in this mess in the first place.
In the movie Three Idiots, a simple scientific innovation solves the problem. A spoon connected to an electric wire electrocutes the errant person peeing. A trifle painful, but shock therapy might be just the thing needed to ensure ‘All Izz Well.’ Hey, it was Aamir Khan’s idea, not mine.
The most difficult of the solutions, but also the most effective. A public place is not a toilet. Change ‘entitlement mindset’, irrespective of gender, and set the right example. Why can’t films show men queuing up to use the toilet? Cleanliness and social responsibility should be a sign of machismo, not getting drunk and peeing in the bushes.
Young children and the elderly with bladder control issues need help. Grown men don’t need to be taught how to use the toilet. Period. Passengers would prefer their flight to be dry and drama free. Hopefully none of these draconian measures (except the last) need be enforced and common sense will prevail.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to request people (both men and women) with access to proper sanitation to use toilets for the purpose they are built for.
Image source: a still from the Marathi film Muramba
Lalitha is a blogger and a dreamer. Her career is in finance, but writing is her way to unwind! Her little one is the center of her Universe. read more...
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