To be sure, every country has its toilet stories. In China, for example, is is about squatting toilets, and standing on the toilet seat. Which method reminds me of the classic joke: how do you know you have stayed in China too long? When the footprints on the toilet seat are yours.
But Iran has its own toilet story. And so far I have not heard any jokes about it.
The Iranian toilet issue revolves around the fact that even the most glamorous and seemingly up-to-date plumbing cannot save you from the very odd situation of NOT being allowed to put paper in the toilet.
That’s right. Modern plumbing and degradable toilet paper mean nothing; the smallest bit of toilet paper in your toilet and you are looking at serious WTF moment involving blockage, overflowing excrement, and considerable embarrassment. Especially if you are at someone else’s place. Just as an side, if this happens while visiting friends, standard operating procedure dictates walking in circles in the bathroom, head in hands, muttering inanities like WTF, WTF, and WTF until the flood recedes.
Iranian toilets do not take paper. You can excrete what you like, in whatever quantities your fancy, but don’t dare putting paper into the loo. You have been warned; the toilets are built with zero tolerance to paper-putting. Or any other form of inorganic putting, for that matter.
So what does one do? It is a question most people dare not ask their hosts. So let me provide some sage one-week old advice.
Iranian toilets mostly come with 1) a hose, and 2) a decent-sized bucket or rubbish bin next to the loo. In the order of these items, you must first hose down your posterior (tricky as hell, quite frankly, and demands tying oneself in knots to get the right degree of exposure to the hose, and then hanging off the toilet seat at mighty risky angles, and NOT spraying the bathroom with the wayward tube), then wipe one’s posterior with the normal-looking toilet paper provided. I say normal-looking, but apparently Iranian toilet paper has the half-life of uranium and will not ever degrade enough to transit the pipes.
But then, after the hosing and wiping have been effected, and this is where it gets really quite style-cramping, you have to fold up and deposit your soiled paper in the often-completely-transparent bin provided.
Truth be told, it cramps my style. Let’s see if it is something one can adjust to and find normal after a few years, or whether it continues to make one dread going for a Number 2 in Iran. After a week of this, my preference is to stand on the toilet seat as long as I don’t have to fold up and deposit my used paper for someone to later collect.
Words to live by: keep plunger handy at all times. If visiting friends, better you take your own backpack loaded with collapsible plunger.
I hope you agree the vulgarity was necessary. 🙂