Saturday, 19 June, 2021

Toilets Tell A Tale

Samrat Baral

Until few decades ago, my family would not pay much attention to managing toilet. And the toilet at our home was not in a good condition. So, I used to feel ashamed to have invited my friends to my house. When nature called, I had to show them the way. Once they returned, it was embarrassing to see how their face gloomed.
I always wanted to invite my friends to my home. I also felt like nobody visited our home. When I went to my friends’ houses, I was envious of hygienic toilets they had and wished such a lavatory were in my home, too. As I grew older, I could not stand up to the dilapidated toilet we had, and I dissented with my father. Reconstructing the toilet was not on his priority list. However, as I relented continuously, he finally paid heed to my plea and the toilet was reconstructed. Then, I began feeling that my home was ready to welcome guests.
When I travel long routes by bus, my decision to eat at eateries depends on cleanliness of their lavatories. One of my friends I know for years was not so hygiene-conscious. When I recently visited his house, the condition of toilet there was in line with his own habit. Few days back, as I had a chance to visit different health facilities and government offices in various districts, the quality of the services provided coincided with the availability of toilets and their cleanliness. Some offices had expensive carpets laid on the floor, but stinking smells were making their way out from the toilets. However, some toilets fixed for the staff were fairly clean. But the toilets set aside for service seekers were so unclean that it was difficult for them even to enter them.
I strongly feel that if we seek to improve the customers’ satisfaction level at public offices, we should start from cleaning up the toilets there. One can have good impressions from offices or other places only when the toilets are clean there. Even when the customers have to stay in queue for few more minutes, they may not complain if the toilets are clean.
When Nepal acclaimed itself to be the first South Asian nation to become an open defecation-free country, more toilets have started to be built. Even most of rural households have now toilets. But the authorities do not seem to be bothered about having public toilets in public places of urban centres. Having a toilet at every household is a public health requirement, but having sufficient public toilets is a societal requirement.
Let us hope that we do not need to keep ourselves dehydrated when we are roaming around the city. There should also not be a situation when we will have to lean against big wall fences to urinate. Let us also hope that in the next few years we will not have to visit restaurants, parks, or shopping malls just to use clean toilets. Such facilities must be available easily in public places. This will overhaul the whole picture of our cities and lead us to a comfort zone.