CS Sharada Prasad | sanitation
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Alexa, wash my ass!

Washing my bum makes me feel cleaner than wiping it. But it is not an option in many places in the US or the Western nations in general. Japan is an exception. As you might know, they have really fancy toilets. Now a days, you can upgrade your existing toilets by buying something like Toto’s WASHLET® C100. Priced at 600 USD, this Washlet is more expensive than what it might cost to build an entire toilet in low income countries. But we are not here for such comparisons. We are here to understand how we can integrate such devices with Alexa for a much more hands free interactive experience.

WASHLET® C100 – Elongated, Source: Toto USA

Features of a Washlet(from TotoUSA website)

  • Gentle Aerated, Warm Water, Dual Action Spray with oscillating feature
  • Adjustable water temperature and volume
  • Warm air drying with five variable temperature settings
  • Automatic air deodorizer
  • Convenient arm control panel
  • Docking Station Easy to Install and Clean
  • Heated Seat with Temperature Control
  • Water Premist™ of bowl before each use

Now let us think of a situation where all these features could be controlled through Alexa instead of using that convenient arm control panel!

Sharada: Alexa, I need to take a dump!

Alexa: Give me a couple of minutes and I will prepare the toilet for you.

(after a couple of minutes)

A: Sharada, Toilet bowl has been premisted for you and its seat has been heated to your preferred temperature. Toilet is ready for your dump to slide.

S: Great! Here I come!

(I sit on the toilet and get done with my business.)

S: Alexa, I am done. Wash my ass now!

A: Sure. Here is gentle aerated warm water coming right  at your asshole!

S: Yes! That feels good. Wait, make it a bit colder, Alexa.

A: Sure.

S: Aah, that’s nice. Aim the jet slightly to the left with more water volume, Alexa.

A: To the left it is. More water coming up!

S: Perfect. Can you increase the pressure a bit?

A: Of course! How do you like it now?

S: Lovely. I would like the spray to be dual action

A: I understand

S: Oscillate it a bit more please… more yeah! … Please don’t stop!

A: I can do this as long as you want me to do it. I am glad you like it!

S: That was incredible… (I catch my breathe) Alexa, dry my ass. Be gentle!

A: Drying your butt with warm air.

S: Lovely! You know me really well, don’t you?

A: You bet!

S: Ok, stop. I am done. Thank you!

A: You are welcome. I look forward to washing your ass next time when you feel like using the toilet again!

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BTW, here is a link to a DIY alexa toilet interface

Raised toilet seats – what do they really mean?

Erect toilet seat
Erect toilet seat is a symbol of perverse exhibitionism

Whenever I see a raised toilet seat, I not only think about the insensitivity of the man who used it before me, but also his perverse exhibitionism. I feel that the person who left that raised toilet seat behind also left his erection back for others to witness.

The practice of leaving erections behind is pervasive and is not limited just to public toilets. Men seem to stand and spray even at homes. They don’t seem to care and lower the toilet seat even if they share that bathroom with women.

Even if we end up finding that sitting and peeing has no real health or other benefits, I think that having a toilet I can enter without the worry of stepping on a floor or rug sprinkled with urine is a good enough reason not to stand and pee.

If being a man is about peeing standing and not putting the seats down, may be it is time for men to  stop being men . Masculinity has done no good to this world. It has only brought war, misogyny and sprinkled toilet seats! So, please put it down!

PS: If touching a toilet seat sprinkled by a stranger’s urine is disgusting, how must it feel to have been forced into a social and financial compulsion to clean a stranger’s toilet or scoop poop without wearing any safety gear from a dry toilet?

Open Defecation – Government is the culprit

Delhi Metro is an ambitious project costing thousands of crores. Yesterday I walked out of IIT-Delhi hostel gate and saw a group of workers working behind the barricade of Delhi Metro, near the flyover. It was about 6:15pm. I walked to the group of workers who were getting out of a huge pit. A brief conversation with them revealed the following.

They are migratory workers (nothing new). They have been living right next to the work site in tents. Contractor provides only water and electricity but no toilet facility. They defecate behind the nearby shrubs ( which is at least 400-600 meters from the tents they live in). I observed that one of the workers was living with a woman and a year old child. I just could not imagine the hassle the woman has to go through.

I tried speaking to the contractor. His name is Sohanlal. He did not answer any of my questions stating that he is too tired and that I should visit him during the morning hours. When I asked him whether I can take a picture of the workers and their family, he said, “Why don’t you go and take pictures of other poor people? They are everywhere in this city”

Laursen and Toubro is the main implementing agency for Delhi Metro. It is accruing profits while the people who work for it are not getting access to basic sanitation. Last time when I was in Delhi, I saw a constriction work at the swimming people. Even the workers there did not have access to toilets and had to defecate in open. Government should stop its double standards. It should insist in all its contracts that basic sanitation be provided to all the workers working on any project funded by the government. Only when the government shows that kind of commitment can a country flourish. Superficial acts will not help.

Delhi is a reflection of affairs in this country – inequality, injustice, violence, rapes, poverty, drugs, prostitution, and religious politics. Delhi has to fix its own problems first before venturing to fix the problems of rest of the country.

Pissing tanker, I piss on you!

Please watch the below video and make a note of your reaction.

Either you were amused by it or you felt a pain deep inside your heart.

Who are the people who pee in public? It’s mostly the people who work in the informal sector i.e. people who don’t work in offices or inside any building for eight hours. 94% of India’s workforce is linked to informal sector which includes construction workers, rickshaws pullers, coolies, courier boys, drivers, roadside vendors ( the list is endless) . The people who laugh (mock?) in the above video might not have engaged themselves in any activity that keeps them outdoor 8-10 hours in a day. They all appear to be either middle or upper class Indians who have the luxury of toilet access both at their residence and workplace. If empathetic enough, one can see harassment, borderline violence rather, in the above video instead of the intended amusement.

In a country with 400 million people working in un-organized sector, public toilets must be found within minutes of walking distance. The problem with urban India is that sanitation is never a priority. The municipality or corporation has no pressure from the public, especially middle class and upper class, to maintain the existing toilets, and has no money to buy/rent  space in a newly developed financial neighbourhood to install toilets.

Even the toilets in railway stations and bus stations are not well maintained as there is no accountable structure in the organization to provide basic sanitation services. You will not see the phone number of any officer who is responsible to keep the toilets clean. The officials hide behind the thick veil of bureaucracy.

Yes, providing good sanitation facility comes at a cost. But lack of provision costs much more to the society. The social and health cost of lack of sanitation is not borne by all sections of society equally. The poor mostly bear the burden while the middle class or upper class insulate themselves from such woes. India cannot come out of the mess of lack of sanitation in public areas unless there is focus on accountability and enough political pressure from upper and middle class.

Dear “Pissing tanker” – Your understanding of public urination is distorted and your actions perverted. Please stop making fun of people who don’t have access to toilets. Your insensitivity towards the helplessness of people is appalling. Most people who are peeing in public are already vulnerable. You don’t have any right to humiliate those people further. If you can, please give them directions to the nearest decent public toilet, if you can find one. If you are so inclined to pee, try peeing inside a public office instead of aiming water cannons at people. You might get the attention of right people!