“Indian Toilet. Indian Toilet Paper.”

You’ve been there. I know you have. You might not admit it, but we’ve all experienced one of the biggest fears known to the civilized world: having to take a dump without a clean toilet in sight.

I was nine years old when I first visited family in the country of India with my parents. After a lengthy eight-hour drive from the airport with no air conditioning through the overcrowded streets of rude people, rickshaws, and eunich beggars, the first thing I wanted to do after arriving at the destination was to visit the “porcelain bank” to make a deposit, and then take a nice hot shower to relax from a long day. I went inside the house and asked my new aunt where the bathroom was located, and she pointed outside to a brown and silver metal door. “The kingdom of relief awaits.” I thought as I walked outside. When I opened the door, I thought there was a misunderstanding. Inside, there was a porcelain hole in a small 3×5-foot closet with a large plastic cup underneath a water faucet; and a giant lizard on the ceiling wall. Confused, I went back inside and asked for the toilet again and also for some toilet paper. My aunt took me back outside, pointed to the hole in the ground and said “Indian toilet.” She then pointed to the cup and water faucet and said “Indian toilet paper.” I was shocked and disgusted at this idea. But nature was calling, and it does not care about morals or values when you have to go.

It’s not easy to squat over a hole in the ground to take a dump, let alone ignore a large lizard on the ceiling above. Sitting in that position made it impossible to relax enough to let anything pass through. After a few days, I was finally able to accomplish something. Sort of. Nothing says welcome to a foreign country better than having to clean up by splashing freezing water on your private credentials.

The following day, we went to go visit family friends that lived in the neighboring village. I had to go “fulfill my duties” again, but didn’t see a bathroom in sight. I asked my cousin, and he stood there for a minute. He then proceeded to give me his small half-filled bottle of water and chuckled as he pointed outside to the sunflower fields and said, “Indian toilet.”