‘Sirjee, Yeeeee Em Coca Ki Honda hai ?’ (What is Em Coca ?) I asked ‘Aye Jee’ my friend yesterday in the best Punjabi twang that I could muster. As a multilingual Malayalee, I can also make the same thing sound Malayalam, Bengali or Gujarati, depending on whether I was speaking to Aye Jee, Gen B, Air Mshl C or Rear Adm D, the ABCD of my life, all my old peer group, much retired and withered just like me. ‘Aye Jee’ is special, the others are all stupid soldiers like me. ‘Aye Jee’ was the boss of Police somewhere, a very powerful ‘Danda Jee’. He always knew the whys and hows of my very troublesome socially inspiring questions because he had done a tenure in ‘IB Jee’ and was as Intelligent-jee as the Babu-jee.
The sun had set. Except for the mosquitoes and the stragglers, there we as no one to watch the comic throes of our heaving and hawing. I was unsuccessfully trying to do ‘Pranayam’, like Mr Baba Ram Dev, in the large DDA park adjacent to my house. ‘Aye Jee’ my friend was deep into karmic meditation, with his legs wrapped around his neck, and hence did not reply.
“I just went for a pee behind the bushes and this very curious lady came to investigate and threatened to put me in jail for life, using ‘Em Coca’, I said conversationally.
‘Em Coca?”, shot back ‘Aye Jee’ from the depths of intellectual coma, the place I believe yoga takes him to. In return he thinks that the XXX Khoday Rum that I drank for over 40 yrs gave me ‘Love Failure’, a potent ischemic decease that only Pranayam and pelvic thrusts can restore.
‘Aye Jee, Sirjeee, I was simply peeing behind the bushes and this strange lady came and threatened me with Em Coca‘. I increased the pranayam rate and pelvic thrust to make my point. ‘Why can’t a lady let an old man pee behind the bushes in peace ?’ I asked with incredulous curiosity.
Aye Jee was silent. He keeps his mouth shut when I ask stupid questions. When I was young and impressionable, and said silly things, my mother used to make me wash my mouth with Dettol. My friend Aye Jee in his youth was an ADC to Morar Jee, the ‘Pee Yem Jee’. When he said something stupid, I think Morar Jee used to make him rinse his mouth with you know what, his ‘Pee Jee’ that probably tasted a wee wee bit worse than Dettol.
‘Why do women have a problem with men peeing in the open ?’, I asked Aye Jee after he had reverted back into intellectual coma. I did not want to embarrass him and leave a bad taste in his mouth, like Morar Jee.
After much study and analysis, it seems to me that amongst the many democratic freedoms in India, the most sought after one is the freedom to 'Defecate and Urinate in public''. If it inconveniences other people, like doing it on your neighbour's door step, the pleasure of freedom is even greater. Ours is not to reason why but to do it, and do it, again and again, till we die.
The urban, TV watching, Indians who have acquired a veneer of civilised behaviour, have bought themselves WCs (Western Commodes). However, the WC is not so much to do with defecating and urinating, as much as to do with the national pride and possessiveness. Since Nadir Shah took away the Peacock Throne several hundred years ago, Indians have come to view the WC as their symbol of renaissance. My wife T for example, cleans and polishes the WC every day with so much pride and dedication, more than she does to any of the other family heirloom. To my mind she does this only because she thinks of the WC as her own Peacock Throne, the seat of serious contemplation, daily inspiration and judgement. Hence, it breaks my heart to defecate and urinate in it. I prefer to do it outside my neighbour's bedroom window. If the neighbour is watching, I get added pleasure and usually give it a more vigorous shake than normal. Just because Gupta-ji my very civilised, Oxford returned neighbour, thinks it is his democratic right to make his well trained dog to do it daily outside my bedroom window !!!!!
For many years, while I was researching British Indian history, I was very keen to know what the colonial Englishmen of the 17 and 18th C in India ate & drank, what they wore, and more than anything else to know whether they defecated in the open and washed their posteriors like Indians afterwards. After all, paper in any form was rather a precious commodity in India those days and toilet paper unheard of, even to venerable English ladies and gentlemen. I read reams and reams of history, in the archives and on the bookshelves, about life and times of colonial Englishmen. Sadly not much history about ladies in the archives. Mind you, the colonial Englishmen took great pride in recording everything concerning the life and times of not only about themselves, but also the natives around them. But not a mention of how they defected, or urinated, not a word anywhere in the history sheets !!! The answer to my quest I finally found in scrapbooks of the venerable La Martieniere, the famous 17C Frenchman ‘Resident’ of Lucknow who built ingenious indoor toilets in his palace ‘Dil Kusha’, where the elevated commodes had a tunnel access from the outside for pigs below to automate scavenging of human waste !!!. He remarked in French, in his scrap book, probably a diary (public library in Lucknow), that he found it very difficult to convince his wife 'Gori Bibi' or any of the visiting Englishmen to use the indoor convenience. Gori Bibi was the niece of Safdarjung, the Wazir of Delhi those days and hence her preferences are predictable. They all preferred to go to the open fields with a 'Lota' of water to clean themselves after the deed, even in inclement weather !!!!! India for 5000 yrs has been the land of the ''public shitters'', and hence have elevated the ritual to superior art form like ‘Katha Kali’ or ‘Mohini Attam’ dances. When inspired Indians migrated to Birmingham or Vancouver, they took their culture and art with them to foreign lands. It was only natural that the people of Vancouver came under the influence of the ''cross cultural pollination'' and adapted superior Indian ways to do, right there it in the parking lot !!!!!
Some years ago, one enterprising Gujrati had the same kind of lack of cultural sensitivity and undemocratic thoughts like the municipality of Vancouver or my good neighbour Gupta-ji. However, being a Gujrati, he decided to make a private business of public toilets (PT). He floated a company called ''Suvidha Pvt Ltd'', obtained a govt license and a govt loan, and started a chain of PTs all over Delhi, with a board outside each of them saying 'Suvidha' (Convenience), and attendants to clean it out after use. One has to pay Rs 5 for entry. When I went to pick up my son ‘A’ from the airport some time ago, I had the misfortune to use one of them in the airport parking lot. I found that no ones goes inside and finds it more convenient to do it right next to the board which says 'Suvidha'. When I was coming out, I met a Sardarji Taxi Driver who was doing it on the sign board. I stopped and enquired, 'Don’t you want to do it inside ? It is very nice and clean' .
'Ki gal hai Sahib', he replied, 'Asi pagal honde kya ?' (What is the matter, do you think I am mad ?), 'Who is going to pay five Rupees just to piss in a room when you can do it for free here ? It says Suvidha, and doesn't it mean that I can piss right here ?'.
Few months ago, there was an article in the HT Delhi edition. An article written with much inflated lung Indian pride, about a museum in Jaipur exclusive on toilets !!! Apparently the man who started this museum has been a student and collector of WCs for over 50 years. He had approached about 40 odd embassies in Delhi to help him find WC artefacts from foreign lands. The pride of this museum apparently is a wooden throne presented by the current French ambassador. The throne used by King Louis, with a clay chamber pot beneath, on which the King held court during his morning constitutional, and hence the evolution of the much touted 'Constitution for the Republic''. Our esteemed political have two toilets, the upper house and the lower house, and hence they can do a better job as bull shitters of the Indian constitution.
India is an emerging superpower and well ahead of Vancouver, in tackling the menace of 'super shitters' (like Hitler's Waffen SS) and 'Pisim' (Piss Terrorism of Gupta-ji my neighbour). But my friend ‘IB Jee’ has found way out, he found the ‘Em Coca’ better suited to tackle the problem. Under the Maharashtra Control Of Organised Crime Act (Em Coca), the non retired ‘IB Jees’ and the ladies in DDA park can put you away in Tee Jay Jee (Tihar Jail) no matter how many human rights candles are lit at Jantar Mantar Jee. I now wear double underwear just to ward off predators and the ladies in DDA park, and stay close to Aye Jee Jee and prefer to do it in my pyjama jee. I have begun to think that constitutionally enshrined democratic freedom of expression is all Bakwas Jee. Beware of Em Coca, it is like the Danda Jee of the Aye Jee Jee, not worth going to Tee jay Jee for just a Pee Job Jee.