Friday, February 10, 2012

Dirt, Filfth, and Bathrooms Oh my!

I was thinking the other day that maybe I should have visited India in my early twenties.  Yes, we have been over this that I should have visited India a long time ago, but my reasoning on visiting is different.
I should have visited India before strictly for the lifestyle change.  At 27, I have become accustomed to living in a certain way.  As human beings, we get older and more set in our ways.  Hence, why your Grandpa wants to stick with his routine and not change it even for a minute right? 

At 22, I would have been more open minded  to adventure and exploring and would have been so eager to come to India that I would have just coped with the dirt and filfth. 
At 27, I am not excited by the dirt and filfth and I do not want to adventure off into it.  This does not mean that I do not explore.  I like to see the way real people live and it fascinates me, but the dirt bothers my mind.  I just went into an adorable hut today and drank out of the cup they provided (a big deal for me, but facing my germaphobic fears).  

Working in the social service field over the years, I have seen a lot of dirty living conditions.  Going into a home to do an assessment or have a therapy session is different than actually staying overnight in the home, sleeping there, and using the bathroom facilities.   Going into underprivileged areas and working inside, around, on it, and near the dirt- I can not necessarily escape it.  But I am definitely more set in my ways than when I was 22 and the dirt and filfth is something that I have extreme difficulty handling.

It is important to make sure people understand the difference between materialism and unclean conditions.  There is a difference between letting go of materialistic things and wanting to be in a clean, safe area. I am working on living in a more simplistic manner without materialism driving happiness. Being able to detach from the materialism is one of the most important things to learn.  A person may choose to not have a Mercedes, but still want to keep it clean.   Hopefully this makes a bit more sense. 

In Southern India, my bathroom experiences have been unclean and unsanitary. I have made the decision to just go outside instead of use public restrooms when I have the opportunity.  Now I use the word “opportunity” because sometimes you have to use the public bathroom. 

At a temple, I decided to go use the bathroom as I had to go and I was not going to hold it for another hour-A.) that is bad for you B.) I drink a lot of water and that is not really an option.  I went into the hole in the ground toilet and immediately I went out.  I hate hole in the ground toilets.  If you notice, I do not use the words “hate” because it is such a strong word and sounds closed minded, but I will repeat, “I hate hole in the ground toilets.” They are one of the grossest things for me to handle and they literally give me nightmares-yes nightmares. 

When I go to sleep at night, I think back to that bathroom and start to feel chills.  The vision of the bathroom replays over and over and over in my head.  Being a therapist, I try to think of my paradise and engage in positive thoughts, but the bathroom just keeps replaying . I will pull at my hair and start to itch, it really is an adverse reaction.

On the train, I was seated next to the bathroom.  Everyone who went in and out would close the door after, but still I felt the bathroom staring at me.  I could smell the fowl bathroom odor that comes from urine and feces sitting for days.  It just makes me gag and start to itch.  I deep breathe, but I then start to tantrum.  I get up and ask a local guy to switch with me and he kindly agrees. Now I am in the middle, but I keep thinking of that bathroom before I go to sleep. 

Off and on the train/bus, men are always peeing in the streets and that does not bother me. I have seen a woman just pull down her pants and squat directly in front of me and it did not even phase me nor did I care as long as I was walking away from her.  The bathroom terror is what haunts me throughout this trip. If I actively work on it with some dialectical behavioral skills hopefully it will get better. Time will tell...

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