Two years back, I met a mom who moved her son to a different school only because the previous school did not have decent toilet facilities. While there were enough toilets and in good condition, they ran out of water quite frequently. Now, we are not talking about some corporation school here. This is a fairly well known middle class+ school. The boy (who was only 5 yrs at that point of time) stopped drinking water so that he doesn't have to go to the toilet.
"I want him to be healthy first - studies can come later" was her opinion.
Recently I was talking to a bunch of older kids (10 yrs+) and they said something similar. They avoided drinking water so that they don't have to go to a dirty toilet.
"Thank god PT is the last period. After playing we'll feel so thirsty and we have to drink lots of water, since it is the last period, we can come back home.."
"It really stinks and during intervals it is so crowded"
and apparently the teacher would, "say something in front of the whole class if we want to go during class, it will be embarrassing"
This again is a fairly sought after school. I can't believe that schools that take so much money in the name of fees should have such poor facilities. Wonder why most parents don't think this important enough to take up during PTA meets.
I've always wondered why women in particular consumed very little water during the day. Most women I know drink less than a litre per day which is abysmally low. Some of them atleast push themselves consciously to drink more but it takes a lot of effort.
I can't help but attribute this to poor public toilet facilities in our country. I've noticed that even some shops do not have such facilities - when I asked the female staff what they do when they have to use the loo, she simply said that they 'finish the business before leaving home'! Imagine the plight of these women when they have their periods! Or for that matter even a stomach upset.
And another shop which was in a shopping complex had the loo on the terrace and again the women never ventured up there since men were always hanging out there. Men obviously pee where they like so they are hardly affected.
I'm remeinded of a social research project that I did many years back. This was among the tea leaf pickers in rural Ooty. I was shocked to learn that it is a taboo for women to go too many times during the day. It apparently means, 'lack of control/ discipline' on the woman's part - they have to 'finish the job before sunrise'. An older woman then told me that if they have to go while at work, they have to go into the forest (the thickets nearby) since there are no toilets and it is not safe for women to stray away from the group and wander off alone. I guess it was the women's way of conditioning to save themselves from bigger dangers. This was almost 10 years back and I hope things have changed for good now... though I wonder...
On a lighter note, recently when I visited a public loo, I was really surprised to find it very clean only to realise later that the door doesn't lock!