I think my hazardous relationship with bathrooms began with my first overseas trip, which was to Sri Lanka. At the Hilton in Colombo, the bathroom stainless steel fixtures glittered but there were too many knobs, switches and taps.
How to open and close them.. which one was for hot water? I felt helpless and had to summon a room attendant to explain to me the mysteries of the bathroom.
I was tense during my bath and was relieved when it was over. Then came the ordeal of closing the correct knobs and taps. Somehow, I managed that.
My bathing style
After that, I travelled to different cities abroad and realised that no two bathrooms were alike. Unlike legal issues, there were few ‘precedents’ here and nothing could be taken for granted. This led to unpleasant surprises. One had to press a button or turn a knob, expecting something to happen. But the opposite happened.
This made me cautious of sophisticated bathroom fixtures. I also grew wary of big bathtubs, which occupied most of the bathroom space. I wasn’t too impressed with Cleopatra’s bathing technique of filling a tub with asses’ milk. I prefer bathing with a bucket and mug. I don’t mind the shower but the tub puts me off.
I remember a huge bathroom at Veraval guesthouse in Gujarat. The water came out of the shower in powerful jets. My daughter’s home in Virginia has a powerful shower but the presence of a huge tub nullifies some of the pleasures of bathing. I remember the times in the village, when I bathed in the river and slyly ogled the curvaceous Kerala beauties, with their long, dark hair, bathing at a close distance.
Raj Kapoor was right in presenting to us well-drenched heroines. When it rained, I had to bathe at home, after drawing water from the well. This was a good exercise and developed one’s biceps. The era of tap water, heaters and geysers came much later. This was a simple and safe method of bathing.
No wonder, Sanjeev Kumar chose the bucket and mug technique for the famous bathing scene in, Pati, Patni Aur Woh in which he sang lustily, Thande, thande pani mein nahana chahiye. He couldn’t have done that in a bathroom full of gadgets.
Experimentation with bathroom gadgets must end. Eagerly anticipating a relaxed and refreshing bath, you have stripped and have turned on some knobs, expecting to be greeted with acceptably warm water.
What if there is smoke, a hissing sound and the water turns out to be scalding hot or freezing? My only plea to bathroom designers is — “Keep it simple, man!”