January 25, 2010

Personal hygiene #2

I solved my toilet paper problem by becoming constipated. Actually, I did end up buying some toilet paper but I felt a small pang of defeat. I also only feel comfortable using it to blow my nose since I don't want to block up the sewage system. In fact, I figured out how to blow my nose into my hand and wash to conserve paper, and hopefully I have conqured my dependence on it altogether. I am slowly perfecting the "wipe" using a cup of running water and my hand to rinse myself, and I have added a "drying" stage after I have washed, simply using a shaken off hand. I finally understand the necessary custom of wiping with the left and eating with the right, especially since I continue to mistakenly use the inappropriate one and find myself feeling dirty and improper for it. There is a well-established system for cleaning oneself that I have yet to master, and that is a subject too personal to inquire locals about. I have enjoyed washing dishes in buckets, since I certainly conserve a great deal of water. I boil my drinking water nightly, so that by morning it is cool enough to drink. As for showers, it is easy to make water "run" yourself, by the simple method of gravity. I am lucky to have the luxury even of being able to heat the water, and especially to have a water man come to our house and refill the barrels from the street pumps every day. Many must bathe and wash dishes in the water pumps themselves, and scrubbing oneself in the company of others outside is just a normal fact of life here. I am a bit envious of these public gatherings, actually, since it appears to be an exceedingly enjoyable social ritual, reminding me of my locker room days. I have a new appreciation for the washing machine when cleaning clothes by hand takes not only an hour of washing and rinsing, but an entire day of drying on the clothes line. I am continually impressed by the multi-purpose uses of the buckets of water in which I not only wash dishes, clothes, and floors, but that I have also found perfect for weightlifting as I do bicep curls with the buckets full of water and my soaking clothes.

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