The sights and smells of India draw millions to its shores. A glimpse of the Taj is incomplete without the whiff of ammonia from the nearby public conveniences. But a less Incredible India is planning to take the latter out of the equation. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi intends to install some new-fangled loos that don’t overflow, and don’t stink. Much is changing for the Commonwealth Games, the smelly urinal too shall pass. For the old India hand whose adventure began at the airport john, modern medicine holds out some hope. They’ve discovered, among other interesting trivia, that smell is man’s longest memory.
Enter the abiotic piss-pots. The technology is fairly simple: a biodegradable seal stops bacteria from coming up for air and undertaking their redolent activity. Some sceptics will be wondering whether the tried and tested water closet — better known in the subcontinent as the WC — was not designed to achieve just that result. Yes, but the critical assumption here is that the waterloo has water in it. What hope, then, that the redoubtable MCD will manage to keep up a steady supply of the pricier degradable seal? Or that the aam aadmi will relinquish his birthright to irrigate the nearest wall?
Despair not, all ye who pass through Indian customs. The odours of millennia will not waft away in a hurry. A nation that reveres not only its cattle but their excrement as well will not turn its back on human piss.