Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rub a dub dub

This is my shower on at full blast.

Don't see any water?

That's because there isn't any.

On several occasions during my brief tenure as a Delhi resident, we have run out of water. Something about the city working on the pipes in the neighborhood. As it is, we get water service twice a day. At the appropriate hour(s), my upstairs neighbor turns on our building's water pump, allowing us to store water in tanks (somewhere, maybe the roof?). That's the water we use over the course of a day. Normally it's not a problem, but the once-a-day supply doesn't cut it.

On the upside, I've learned certain lessons about cultural differences. When I told a coworker that I'd run out of water halfway through a shower one morning, she looked at me confused. "You don't just fill a bucket?" Apparently I was doing two weird things: a) assuming water would be available most of the time because I live in a normal middle-class neighborhood and b) showering American style.

It's difficult to learn the intimate details of appropriate bathroom customs in foreign countries. No one is going to show another adult how to use that hose that's affixed to the wall next to the toilet. Nor are they going to demonstrate proper use of an Indian squat toilet (Seriously, like, how do you not have to take off your pants? I don't get it.). The same goes for bathing - since you don't see anyone else do it, you don't know what's normal.

Luckily, when it comes to bucket baths, the internet is full of advice. Some of it is bad (stand in the bucket) and some of it is good (stand over a drain). There's a bucket, along with the smaller pitcher for pouring the water, in my bathroom, but it had never even occurred to me to use it when there was a "normal" shower available. And I still don't know what a typical Indian girl would do with my bathroom set-up on a good day when the option of an American shower is a reality. Bucket or nozzle? Until I make some close Delhi-native friends that I can ask, I guess I'll just have to wonder.