How to answer the call of nature in a bihari village

August 2009

I woke up from an unfamiliar smell. As I slightly opened my eyes I could see a very old woman’s face only a few inches away from my own. She was inspecting me with curiosity and at the same I could see affection in her glance “Just pretend to sleep, don’t wake up!” my mind repeated on and on. The woman softly petted my leg and then left the room. There were still some kids sitting on the floor whispering at each other as I moved. Apparently they were exited about what I would do next.

Village kids

Village kids

I would really have loved to pretend to be sleeping for a little while, but I really needed to use a bathroom; thing I hadn’t done since we went of the train in Patna. I left the room and eventually found Baba, who asked his ‘Babi’ about where I could answer the call of nature. He turned towards me and translated:

“You just pee there, no problem!”

pointing at the small gutter that ran through the open patio.

“What do you mean with ‘no problem’? No way!”

I answered appalled

“There are so many people! I won’t piss in front of all them!”

I looked up and saw a group of people waving happily at me through the patio from the roof-top.

“They will leave, only some women will stay in the house”

The open patio

The open patio

I just could not do it. Call it ego or dignity or whatever, but if I couldn’t even take a nap without being observed like an animal in a zoo, at least I would appreciate some privacy with a more intimate matter. I already imagined ‘Babi’ evacuating the house shouting something like

“Everybody out, the foreigner has to piss!”

I decided to pretend that it wasn’t that urgent and to hold on for a little while more; maybe at some point people would leave.

Pagli, our American friend, was still sitting on the bed surrounded by a crowd of villagers trying to make some conversation. A gap opened through the crowd like when Moses crossed the ocean and I sat next to her. It was almost noon and it had gotten incredibly hot. A girl brought us a big plate with food, which looked delicious and I was really hungry. I started to eat slowly, but I barely could swallow a bite.

Have you ever tried to eat while hundreds of eyes are fixed on you and several voices ask you things in a language you don’t speak expecting an answer?


Lunchtime with small audience

And I do not exaggerate when I say hundreds of eyes! The room was so stuffed with people, that I could feel the breath of the first line of them and in the stuffy heat I almost couldn’t breathe. I tried to eat as much as possible from the delicious food that had been prepared especially for us guests, but I could not finish it; I felt sorry because I thought that the woman who cooked it might think that I didn’t like it, but I really couldn’t help it.

Baba had gone somewhere again and my bladder was about to explode. Suddenly I started to hyperventilate and the more I thought “Breathe in, breathe out…” the worse it got. I stood up, made my way through the crowd towards the entrance door and went outside. I was bound and determined to find a nice private spot behind some pretty bush in the middle of nature. I realized that tears were running down my cheeks and went on walking quickly without turning around and ignoring the worried voices shouting behind me. I headed to a nearby field as fast as I could. Then I heard Baba behind me:

“You crazy? Where you go?”

I turned around and saw like fifty people following me, mostly children and women. Under these circumstances I would definitively not find a nice private bush.

This was unbelievable! The only thing I wanted was to pee!

Finally I shrugged my shoulders and followed Baba and Pagli back to the house. ‘Babi’ shooed the people away from the door; and so first Pagli peed in the gutter; and then following her good example, I resigned and did so, too.

Necessity can be an excellent teacher!

10 thoughts on “How to answer the call of nature in a bihari village

  1. Pingback: India: Sometimes tough …and sometimes touching, beautiful and overwhelming | himalayacakes

  2. 🙂 It’s iteresting… Whenever you visit Rishikesh next. Please let me know. May be we can meet over a cup of tea.

    • Okay!!! Don´t know when that will be… maybe you feel like coming up to Almora one day, that´s where we live… Season is starting soon here. We make very good Chai!!!

  3. Pingback: Bye-Bye Bihar! | himalayacakes

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