‘Toilet-paper’ is the one word that makes any Indian cringe with disgust. But, that doesn’t stop us from coming to America and then complaining about using the paper.
Even though I am an Indian, I was never brought up in India. I grew up in the United Arab Emirates. The culture in UAE is pretty heterogeneous, so when it came to the restrooms a choice of both water and toilet-paper were available. This meant never having to learn to use toilet-paper.
Thus, the January of 2014, was one of the toughest months. I had start using toilet-paper to clean myself, as I going to complete my education in America. And the thought of getting used to this new habit scared me more than anything I had ever been scared of.
By this point of time all you toilet-paper using fellas, must be wondering as to why and how did toilet-paper scare me, and the Indians, I know you feel me.
We Indians don’t have a specific history behind our use of water in the washrooms. We use it simply because we find it hygienic and get a sense of cleanliness after we wash ourselves. In some Indian cultures they have various rules like; one must completely remove all garments of clothing from ones body when using the washroom for your daily business. But, there is no such account as to how we came to use water.
Thus, the transition was not only terrifying physically but also mentally, because it took me nearly three months to look up ‘how to use toilet-paper?’ tutorials on YouTube. And I must have barely looked up a dozen videos before I shut my laptop and swore to myself, that I will accept being the odd one out but, I shall never use toilet-paper in my life.
Nonetheless a woman can change.
On reaching the Red Roof Inn, Bowling Green, Kentucky I felt it was necessary to embrace the culture where I was going to be for the next few years. So, I gave it another try, and voilà, it was so simple; I could not imagine why I was being so paranoid about using toilet-paper. Not only was it simple, but in fact it was so easy, so convenient and so damn fascinating.
Did you know; toilet-papers have been in use from the 14th century? Joseph C. Gayetty of New York started producing the first packaged toilet paper in the U.S. in 1857. It consisted of pre-moistened flat sheets, which were medicated with aloe and were named “Gayetty’s Medicated Paper”. Then in 1877 Albany Perforated Wrapping (A.P.W.) Paper Company gave us rolled and perforated toilet paper that we are familiar with today. (http://nobodysperfect.com/vtpm/exhibithall/informational/tphistory.html).
The history of its conception was much less fascinating than the fact that toilet-paper came in various types, textures, colours and prices. It’s been nearly three months since I step foot in America, but the toilet-paper aisle at the markets still leaves me baffled by the kind of choices it offers.
You can literally choose to be stingy or incredibly generous when it comes to taking care of your hienie. You can choose from an array of papers, from moist to dry, quilted to course, made-out of trees to made-out a recycled paper, standard to jumbo to jumbo junior. Not only that, if you think that you want to reach the apex of luxury, you have to buy the 22-karat gold-plated toilet-paper, which by the way, comes with a bottle champagne. And trust me; it will only cost you a meager $1.3 Million, (shipping charges not included) (http://www.ealuxe.com/most-expensive-toilet-paper-world/).
So, the next time any of you water using fellas think about making a face when you hear of toilet-paper, you just remember that water available to you in the washrooms are not scented, not coloured, not textured, doesn’t come in various sizes and guess what it doesn’t it come in gold.
And as for me, using toilet-paper was one fun experience. So do you still want to judge a book by its cover?
P.S: I wrote this blog post for my Introduction to media writing class, the assignment being write a blog post on any topic.