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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

An ode to my pit latrine

Pit latrines safeguard the psyche of humanity in their depths and darkness
Pit latrines safeguard the psyche of humanity in their depths and darkness

Dear pit latrine,

Many a times I wonder what might be your opinion of me as a human being, considering how I treat you. I shit into you; I throw all possible things – condoms, liquor bottles, needles, syringes, sanitary pads – right into your heart. I sometimes worry whether you know me too well! But mostly I find solace in the fact that someone knows the true side of me.

To many in this world, you provide the necessary privacy to relieve themselves with dignity. For me, you also provide a kinship. Your depth and darkness is a reflection of my own personality. Because of you, I not only shit in peace but I also live in peace. Your silence keeps me sane and your acceptance makes me feel human.

Character is what lies in the dark. Mine lies deep inside you!

Thank you for being part of my life.

fondly,
marginalized human

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?

Why do people honk so much in India?

Yes, this is a question many people ask, including Indians. Over the last decade I have deeply thought about this confounding question and I think I have an answer.

India a country where the society vehemently controls and sometimes even rejects the strongest of the human instincts – sex. The society lacks the basic understanding that sex is a very human thing to have. If you come to think of it, without sex, there would be no humans around, but only cows in India.

Most people these days get to learn about sex through pornography. Hence the whole idea of bodies and expectations from sex is distorted. Not many people get to experience the intimacy in public – such as holding hands or kissing. Result – pent up sexual frustration.

You get better at a sport by playing it more often with different people. Same rule applies to sex. As the society is neither setup for dating nor divorces, most people probably don’t know how to have good sex. Result – pent up sexual frustration.

Just as the talk about sex, the actual act of sex in India is silent. How can one enjoy sex if we have to seal our lips because of the worry that our children, neighbors, or in-laws might hear us? The sonic suppression of sexual act coupled with the absence of orgasms push people to express their frustration through blaring honks on the road. Vatsayana is ashamed of us!

Suppressed orgasms have made India a violent country. They are the primary reason for the ever present road rage in India. Why else would one hit a fellow driver, without even starting a conversation, for a silly bumper dent?

According to my analysis, India is honking and yelling – “I AM HORNY!”

Next time when someone honks, please don’t be mad. Empathize and express your solidarity by smiling and honking back!

The memory game

Star Trail, Mexico

Star Trail, Mexico

Many of my friends brag about their children’s capability to identify cars from a distance. Some are such experts that they can name a car just by its engine sound. I am impressed. I am glad that children have developed such memory. Even I was fascinated by, if not obsessed with,  cars during my childhood days. The list of cars was small Ambassador, Maruti 800, Fiat, Premier Padmini, and Contessa Classic. Hence identifying them was not considered as a memory prowess. Also, there was no way for us get to know about cars other than those that were on the streets. There were no weekly magazines dedicated to cars, no internet, no huge billboards with insecure men standing next to huge cars, no car games on the computer or smartphones.

Even Srushti, my niece, will start identifying cars and we might all start bragging about it. Identifying soon become a norm and not a talent. What would be nice for children (and elders) is to identify plants and trees around them, and the stars above them. I walk past trees without knowing their names. They are there in the same place all the time, smiling at me, and greeting me with their shade. But I am this rude person who does not care to even know their names. I take them for granted. I have been walking under the starlit sky ever since my birth. But I can hardly identify any constellation. I don’t know the birds those chirping birds or names of the moths and butterflies that hover over the flowers in my garden.

Unless I get connected to the nature around me, I might not observe the changes in it. I easily recognize the sickness in a friend but not in stranger. Nature should no longer remain a stranger to me. I want to be re-introduced to it through Srushti. I hope the two of us will be able to develop stronger bonds with nature. I hope we both realize how diverse nature is and how boring man-made things can get.

Thank you for shopping with us!

The opportunity to spend the long weekends of Dasara and Diwali with my parents, brothers and their family excited me. My mind was pre-occupied with the ways to surprise my family with gifts and celebrate with gusto. I did not have much time to shop as I had to finish my assignments before I left for my break. I decided to do all my shopping online. The offers on the net made me beam with pride. India has progressed a lot! Online shopping, net banking, cellphone coverage, high-speed internet, and online train and bus ticket booking facilities. What more could I have asked for?

The home pages of these shopping portals are seductive. Limited stock cookware, 1 rupee pen drives, phones and TVs on incredible exchange offers. Shopping in the malls is a great exercise for the Indian middle class which is slowly turning obese and diabetic. Online shopping ruined it all by confining the middle class to the comfy couches. But now one can buy an exercising belt online which will vibrate, when tied around your abdomen or thigh, to keep our muscles in shape. That belt is the best innovation of the century.

To surprise my family, I spent several hours at office on the internet finding the best online deals.  I could not spend much time with my wife or child for next two days. I was shopping at office and working at home. But I was glad that I could find some fantastic deals and meet my project deadline. My family packed for the Diwali holidays with all the enthusiasm it could muster. When we reached the train station, it was clear that whole of India was going home to celebrate Diwali.

We reached Bangalore on Thursday morning. With four full days to go, we were giddy with the options of movies we could watch, food we could cook, and stories we could share. While everyone was catching up with one another, I was standing at the gate expecting the arrival of the courier guy. The website had assured me that I would receive my delivery before noon that day. It was already 11:55. I was growing impatient. The courier guy arrived at 12:20, full twenty minutes late. I yelled at him for not being punctual. I told him I would complain to the company about the delay. He apologized profusely. When I collected my big and heavy package with a stern warning, he wished me a happy Diwali, probably to lighten my mood up. I smiled and wished him back.

“How far is your house?” I asked.

“4 kilometers”

“That’s not far. You can go home to have special lunch today. Right?”

“I live alone. My wife and parents live in Bijapur”

“Oh? You should have applied for a two-day leave and spent all four days with your family.”

” We are not allowed to take any time off during the festival season as many people shop on our website and we have to deliver all the gifts by the assured date and time during the festival season. ”

He looked at his watch and said, “I am getting late for my next delivery. Happy Diwali. Thank you for shopping with us. ”

The big and heavy package in my hands seemed empty.

Protecting women?

Of late I am seeing videos and posts about how men ought to protect women, how protecting women is religion etc. An example video is below.

The worrying part of messages like these is that they portray perpetrators, men and religion, as saviours, and women as vulnerable beings who need protection. But that vulnerability, a kind of oppression, imposed on the women from the outside by the societies.  Before saying ‘men should protect women’, we should understand who has made them vulnerable. Then, instead of saying “Men should protect women”, we will say,  “Religions – stop oppressing women!” and “Men should stop being assholes!”

India’s rape culture

Why do people rape? I wish the answer was as pithy as the question. But some of the solutions that have emerged to end rape culture in India are short-sighted.

The most touted of all the solutions is introduction of harsher laws. Some people even stoop to the level of listing a few countries with tighter laws as examples India should follow. The irony is that those very countries also have strict laws to oppress women. For a law to be effective, its enforcement should be facilitated by an efficient police force and a prudent judiciary. But in India, rapes occur inside police stations, and lawyers, judges, and police ask demeaning questions to the victims in public. Indian state itself has been accused of using rape as a weapon in Jammu and Kashmir, North East, and regions affected by Naxalism.

Building toilets is not a solution either. No doubt, building toilets upholds the right of people to live with dignity, and reduces diseases due to water contamination, but, sadly, it cannot stop rapes. The fact that women with access to toilets are also harassed and sexually abused negates construction of toilets as a solution.

Installing Closed Circuit (CC) cameras in public areas and schools is not a solution because CC cameras cannot be installed everywhere, even where they are installed, there can be blind spots. CC cameras cannot always be used to identify the perpetrator, and they cannot be monitored all the time. CC TVs are an expensive and ineffective solution.

Signing online petitions won’t stop rapes. Such things are good for asking the government to extend bus timings, fill up potholes, and clean up a ditch in the neighbourhood. Online petitions have been effective in other countries. But in India, they have not been effective in prodding government to provide better governance. The heights of the naiveté of India middle class lies in sharing and liking posts on social media. Such things work well for kitten pictures, not for social change. The change happens on the ground, in the sweltering Sun. Social media has aided change by being a tool of effective communication and organization. But till people assemble in person, demonstrate, and exert demand, change remains elusive.

There are people who clearly understand that the above solutions don’t work. Such wise people, with deeper understanding of Indian society and culture, have listed radical reasons and solutions for thwarting sexual crimes. These people, mostly right-wing fundamentalists, blame women for aping western culture by wearing skimpy clothes, media for airing provocative images, and internet for facilitating access to pornography. Putting the burden on the victim reflects not the ignorance of these fundamentalists of the fact that women have been the victims even during the pre-public media and pre-internet era, and even when they are fully clad, but the shrewdness behind perpetuating male patriarchy and female oppression. This is also an evidence of the double standards of current Indian society dominated by fundamentalists who brag about the details depicted in Kamasutra and Khajuraho temples but supress expression of sexuality, one of the most natural human tendencies.

A person commits sexual violence for various non-sexual reasons. Though drugs, and alcohol top the list, sexual violence is used to vent pent up frustration and insecurity, and assert gender and caste superiority. The frustration could be a result childhood abuse, high school bullying, or disappointment due lack of upward mobility, and the perception of superiority could be the result of existing social structures. While the rape cases have been increasing, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, displacement in the name of development is increasing, migration to urban areas is raising, communal hatred and religious fundamentalism is growing, sexual expression is contained in the name of moral policing, middle class is becoming more and more self-centred, politician’s understanding of social issues has hit a new low, and judiciary continues to be slow and inefficient. Some of these factors might be strengthening existing social relations or manifesting themselves into frustrations and insecurities.

Increase in the number of sexual crimes is a reflection of the health of the society, not just of the individual who commits crime. As a society, we need to introspect. Together, we should work towards reducing income inequality, creating safer and educated environment for the interaction of men and women, providing opportunities for people to express their sexuality confidently, building better sanitation facilities, improving childcare and nutrition, treating men and women equally, eradicating caste system and other types of discrimination and exploitation, creating stronger democratic systems, providing employment opportunities, and eliminating of moral policing. As always, it is important to address the cause, not the symptom.

It is time to invest in future generations. Men, from an early age, should be taught to treat women as human beings and not as sexual objects. Men are not entitled to women. Unfortunately, the fact that forced marital sex is still not considered as rape in India legitimizes such entitlement. The oppression of women in Indian families in the name of traditional values is so sophisticated that the oppressed are not even aware of such an oppression. A married Hindu woman carries more external symbols such as mangal sutra, toe ring, and sindhoor, than a married man, that depict her as a property of some man. The confidence among girls needs to be boosted by reassuring them that they matter to the parents, and to the society, irrespective of their profession or complexion. The emphasis should be on girl’s independence and not on obedience to husbands and in-laws. She should be educated to make her realize her innate worth. She is more than a person who just bears a son for the family she is married into.