Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The most mundane blog entry of all time.

Last week came the day which I have been fearing ever since my arrival in Russia. I have gone to great lengths to put this atrocious day off for the last two months and thought I may be able to avoid it forever. But, alas, suddenly I found it was upon me. Yesterday I was forced to use a squatting toilet. This is one of the moments when one thinks to oneself 'How did I get here? Is this really where I want to be in life?' Surely there are few things more shameful than squatting down savagely and relieving oneself into what is essentially a hole in the ground in a cubicle with no door. And to pay 10 Roubles for the pleasure no less.

I am aware that many of my friends and acquaintances in England see Russia as some kind of primitive wasteland full of gangsters who regularly engage in kidnapping/torture/organ selling/attempting to take over the world in Bond villain style. My mother was more concerned with whether I would be able to find a cash point in Krasnodar. Personally, I am inclined to roll my eyes at these views and thus far all of my organs are intact as far as I know, although I can't vouch for the rest of the population of Russia. I am also aware that most of my friends and acquaintances know that I am by no means an optimist. However, even I was crushed by the realisation that the toilets in the University, an establishment intertwined with development and improvement, were squatting toilets. Furthermore, Krasnodar airport also favours this unorthodox mode of commode. This is why I have been risking a urinary tract infection for the last 2 months in a bid to avoid these toilets at all costs. I am not naive, I know that Russia is no Utopia. But I did assume that I would be living in some kind of civilisation with 20th century toilet facilities. Maybe when Putin commented that Russia is 100 years behind the West, this is what he meant? I should emphasise that these toilets are significantly more sophisticated than just a hole in the ground. But that doesn't make it any easier to navigate ten kilos of luggage into the cubicle.

I suppose I should have expected something like this. I did have a similar albeit milder shock, or more accurately confusion, in St Petersburg. It is difficult for me to describe what I experienced there, so after some research I have discovered it is officially referred to as the "Reverse Bowl" or "Shelf Style." I am sure some of you are already familiar with this. The rest of you can use your powers of deduction. All I will say on this matter is that is particularly unpleasant when one shares such a toilet with 8 other people, one of whom lives on a diet of nuts, berries and red meat. Fortunately Tajik Sasha has left now, so at least we don't have any more of these pesky residue incidents.

They say you should do something which scares you every day. Mission accomplished - for a few days, at least. And according to Wikipedia squatting is beneficial and favoured in Japan. And we all know how civilised the Japanese are. Or at least they know it.

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