Posted by Jiggy Gaton | Edit Post
No, this article is not about the wildly popular HBO TV serial “Game of Thrones,” although if I thought I wouldn’t bore you to tears, I would write that review, as I really am digging the show. This week is about another kinda throne altogether, and for those who are a bit squeamish about potty-talk, best to switch to the sports section right away.
I only bring up the Nepali toilet because as long as I can remember, it has been a fascination and obsession with tourists and locals alike. But we are not talking the traditional charpi, but the modern-day incantation - that in one case has a heated seat that raises it’s lid when you enter the bathroom.
While this iToilet may not be available down on Teku road, other modern toilets of all descriptions are, and these are showcased in the front windows of hundreds of shops selling “sanitary fixtures” all about town.
I’m sure you have noticed. As a tourist first arriving here over a decade ago, I was amazed by how easy one could purchase a shiny new porcelain bowl and sink set, but one could not find a decent laptop for sale. Perhaps that’s just indicative of traditional Nepali sensibility, or maybe just good old Indian marketing.
Regardless, as an expat from the kingdom of fancy shower rooms that come standard with every rental, fixing up the bathroom has always been a priority for me here in Nepal. First you have to have hot water, as how can I, a westerner by birth, take freezing cold showers all year round like a Jomsomite? And which way to put my feet was a conundrum the first time I was confronted with the charpi. Never really figuring that out, I just had it replaced, which was a relatively painless affair...
According to Ranzit from RR Hardware in Dhobighat, I am not alone. Most all new fixtures installed in KTM have been of the “throne” variety in the past several years. It appears the only folks still squatting on the pans, are servants. But business is slowing Ranzit says, as most of the area’s new construction is now complete (there is no more room to build), and the plumbers are now hunkered down in “maintenance mode.”
I feel for plumbers in Nepal, even if outwardly most look a bit shady. I have a pal in America who made millions in the business, but here the average plumber makes Nrs. 700 per day, and has to find that work each and every day. The last time I hired a plumber in America, his rate was Nrs. 7000 per hour, and he never had to look for work, as the masses were lined up outside his door, begging for a repair.
But perhaps things have changed, as the economy there is certainly in the toilet. Even here in Nepal, the typical plumber is underwater with the crazy rise in food and petro prices of late, even though the standard wage has not risen one little pisa.
That’s gotta be tough for small businesses like RR Hardware, which seems to do a small trade in selling straw brushes and nails, while the plumbers play cards behind the counter waiting for the call. But excellent work they do, as I was having an “Asian” toilet replaced by them whilst writing this very edition of potty-talk. The work was done fast and efficiently, and at a price I could not imagine if living abroad. Now I have a modern throne on every floor, and I am sitting much more comfortably than my counterparts ever did back in House Baratheon, King’s Landing.
Now, only if there were enough water to flush my shiny new toilet...
Who the heck is he?
- Jiggy Gaton
- lives in Kathmandu and is an aging technologist - has been since the days of Woodstock - so in the words of Roland The Gunslinger "he is from a world now gone by." However, Jigs is extremely up-to-date on all things tech and is also available for hire.