Monday, July 28, 2014

"Tuvalet" Customs in Turkey

Squat Turkish Toilet
Toilet culture interests me. Perhaps because I'm an older woman with an undersized bladder. Or maybe it's just like the study of anything else, it tells a lot about the people. As in other third world countries, Turkish city streets and bus stations have public bathrooms that, for a small price, usually around the equivalent of 50 cents, a Turk or a tourist can pay for a spray or a slightly longer stay. 

I used to find this money exchange objectionable because it winds up being a tax of sorts on women and older folks, in particular. But, I concluded, it’s not all that expensive and is preferable to having no access at all, like in the majority of cities in the United States.

The pay toilet in Turkey has evolved. It used to be that a patron would have to state her/his intention at the door and defecating was charged at a higher rate than urinating. This proved problematic on many levels. First it was embarassing. Second, one can not always be accurate with these predictions. Could you get some money back if your assessment turned out to involve a bit of wishful thinking? And third, of course there was a huge language barrier for non-Turkish speakers. 

Two Flushes, Large and Small
So now, one rate covers any and all outcomes. As for the commodes themselves, most groups of pay toilets will have at least one “western-style” unit. Newer venues tend to be all of this variety. Turkish toilets of the "eastern style" are flat on the floor, a porcelain bowl in the ground with places on either side for the feet. You must squat to use them.

In Islamic law, males are encouraged to squat rather than just spray, partly because it's more hygenic, but also because there is a toilet ritual that involves not facing Mecca. For women, it’s a little more complicated. Pulling down underwear and pants and successfully peeing without getting anything else wet takes a bit of practice. Maybe a skirt would be easier. But either way, I can't imagine attempting anything more serious than urination under these circumstances.

The western-style toilets in Turkey, however, have become quite advanced. Like the ones in Europe and, increasingly in the States as well, they have two flushes: a smaller button for number one emissions and a larger for number 2, options that are very water conservation-minded and efficient. Since I've been back in the USA I have noticed more of this divided flush thing happening, often with an up or down option.

Strategically-Placed Spray Valve
The other thing that I discovered, by happy accident, about the Turkish toilet is that a valve control on the lower right side of the toilet can be turned on with interesting results. What a surprise it was to recieve an expertly directed anal-wash by simply turning this faucet. This butt-hole bidet evolved partly as a paper-saving device. It shows that the Turks are indeed a fastidious people. I would love to purchase one of these commodes for use in my home.