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Last Orders: Tour de toilet

india Updated: Nov 22, 2013 18:07 IST
Serena Menon

It’s not every day that journalists’ jobs require them to visit toilets at pubs and restaurants around the city. Recently (on November 19 — the date that the UN has recognised as World Toilet Day) I was reminded of one such peculiar assignment.

Over three days last year, I surveyed washrooms at more than 20 bars across Mumbai. The idea was to find the most exquisite ones. Not just because they are only the most essential aspects of a pub, but also because this is where a lot of wild parties end. And the result of the tour de toilet was insightful.

From enormous glass chandeliers and velvet curtains to sprawling sofas, life-size, egg-shaped cubicles and even full-grown trees — bars like Canvas Lounge and Bungalow 9 have really gone all out to have people answer nature’s call in style.

The only question that remains unanswered is why places that make a living out of selling alcohol, which works as an effective diuretic, would not have enough loos. No one’s asking for 10, but two, at least?

Most older, popular bars like Toto’s and Ghetto (they’ve been around for over 20 years) and Café Mondegar, that each pack in about a hundred people on a good night, have one tiny cubicle each for men and women. A few days ago, I witnessed a desperate gentleman in the process of what looked like an effort to break the washroom door down at one of these pubs. Even newer ones like The Big Nasty and Woodside Inn invariably have a bunch of people queued up, squirming under pressure, cramped into a narrow space.

The suburban lounge, Escobar, actually requires you to climb a flight of stairs and then come to an uncomfortable halt when you see 15 people queued up ahead of you. Then you spend the next 20 minutes of your Saturday night sipping your drink, waiting in queue, bonding over the lack of loos in bars, chatting and perhaps making new friends.

Thankfully, a few beers later, most glasses tend to look half full, which is why brawls don’t break out in washrooms; not too often, at least. But I ask any new entrepreneur looking to open a bar in Mumbai to not put too much onus on this form of bonding. The bar, and not the bathroom, is still where people like to hang out.