About Me

My photo
I'm a consulting geologist for a small company in the Denver area. I study problems related to active tectonics, using geomorphology, structural geology and remote sensing.

Thursday, February 02, 2006



bit of a rant here, so just bear (down) with me... one of the cultural differences that is impossible to ignore here in taiwan, is the use of the squatter in public restrooms. now, perhaps it is my spoiled anglo-tushie, or some preference for having a bit of a library when i need relief, but i find using a squatter a bit of a pain in the ass (tasteless pun intended). i should also preface this with the fact that i have no problem assuming the squatting position when i'm twenty miles from civilization, or wiping my butt with everything from leaves to stones to snow... i'm proud to say i've used all of those with great success in the past... but doing this in a claustrophobia-enducing cubby, with slick tile floor and absolutely no aiding support, can be a challenge. the 'squatter' for anyone who hasn't figured it out, is the minimalistic alternative to the classic sit-down toilet. in south america you are lucky to find one that is little more than a hole in the ground. here in taiwan they are slightly more refined, being flush-fit recessed porcelain fixtures that flush. the tricky thing about them is that they require a certain amount of flexibility and balance to utilize without incurring tragic consequences. another side effect of the stance required, is that any possibility of relaxing is gone. so, all in all, they are generally an experience to be dealt with as quickly as possible. ah, yes... i almost forgot; there is never (read: never-ever) any sort of tissue paper in the stall... it is strictly b.y.o.t-p... another slight oddity as this necessitates walking through your building with a roll of toilet paper in hand. "hey, tarka... where are you headed?"... ah, usually i might reply, "oh, just going to go get a drink." or some such banal or vague reply. with tp in hand, it is inescapably obvious what one intends to do in the near future....



Chris said...

I've never figured out why the rest of the world chose to go with the squatter toilets over the American bowl version. Seems like an easy choice to me.

Tarka said...

I should point out that in peoples homes, "normal" sit downs are used... it's really just public toiets... and, depending on a person's accuracy and aim, squatters can be more hygenic, since you never actually touch anything... or at least your ass doesn't.

just a thought...

Serge said...

This posting was an invitation to let you know that I have been in touch with you through this parallel universe of the blogosphere. It is fitting that I should pick this subject as you were just out of your diapers when we met (and Theo was in his!).
Joan says she feels no sympathy: women deal with this issue in all public restrooms, US or not, when their mothers have it ingrained in them that ever touching the procelain will have the most dramatic of consequences!
The public display of this private natural imperative through the more conspicuous paper roll would definitly be a humbling experience... that's what cultural shake up is all about. But I'm sure that when your folks see you hit the place with a book or Newspaper in hand they probably got a hinch... :-)! Thank you for your wonderful writing. Keep it up!