• this is india

This is India! 45

Welcome back to This is India! I always have funny/weird stories about India to share with friends or family when I talk to them. This is just meant to be an honest portrayal about my life in India through short anecdotes. I also share here what I’ve been up to online outside Werkenntwen.

What I was up to other than here:

  • I did a little interview:   on Sunshine Tienda but other than that have been catching up on work, as while Ben’s brother was here I got really behind on the blog and partied far too much! So, this week was all about relaxing  :D
  • WOW travel did a summary of the & mentioned Werkenntwen! I’m still shocked when I get on lists like this and the reason is because you guys actually read this! I can remember when I first started the blog and had about 10 people reading it only a year and a half ago.

Now your story,

When I was in Uganda about 5 years ago was the first time I was exposed to babies not wearing diapers because the family couldn’t afford them. The kids just walked around naked, peed on people when they were held, and the moms washed them up. I got used to it, thank God, because something similar happens in India- although I don’t know if it’s because of the cost of diapers or just personal preference.

Here, I see a combination of cloth diapers, regular ones, and nothing. Since you know that for adults in India, the toilet situation is different from the west, of course it would be for babies too. Adults go to the toilet oftentimes in a squat toilet (like a hole) and they use either a sprayer to clean off or a bucket and wash with their left hand. Paper isn’t necessary.

So why would baby wipes be?

Don’t be surprised if you walk out of an INOX movie and see a couple of moms washing their babies poopy bums in the bathroom sinks. Because that’s what I saw the last time I saw a movie in Panjim!

Is that normal!?

I mean at home, okay. I understand, if it’s the culture. But in a public bathroom I would think they’d do it over the toilet. I’m sure my Indian readers can explain further in the comments!

This is India!

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About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Kaitlyn April 10, 2015 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    Hey Rachel.
    I love your site it’s been really great reading about India and your experiences. In response to your questions about the lack of diapers in India. I’ve learned that in some developing countries mom’s use a concept called ‘elimination communication’ with their infants just Google it, so interesting. It’s really cool I had no idea because diapers are so commonly used in North America.

  2. ANAIR April 10, 2015 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    It is a mix of cost and comfort. In the rural areas people do not use diapers due to its high cost. It is common there to see babies roaming around naked in the house, lawns and gardens. In urban areas many babies develop rashes due to diapers. It could be because of the heat and humidity. I have seen babies who just cannot stop crying when on diapers. It itches them badly and they cannot say that.

  3. Ryan Biddulph April 10, 2015 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel,


    I recall taking a bus from Trivendrum (sp) to Chennai. We had a rest stop. My wife asked where the toilet was – for women – and he said, “Anywhere.” That sums up India, or at least some parts of India.

    Tweeting from Bali.


  4. Mukesh April 10, 2015 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Well I think Indians do not use paper from a long time ago. So its still not in their habit, but washing a baby bum in a bathroom sink is what many people would not do. They usually will wash it in the toilet itself.
    That may be one exceptional case I guess.

  5. Mr. Tayal April 10, 2015 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    Now a days many malls & cinemas in metro & big cities in India have a separate momcare room apart from Men & Women washrooms. Not sure if it is there in Goa Inox or not. “Matter of habit” rule applies to many things to every place. West uses paper to wipe off.. India uses water… which is more hygienic than just wiping I think.

    • Rachel Jones April 12, 2015 at 7:29 pm - Reply

      i actually agree about the water being better, although in the toilet not sink of course

  6. Siva April 10, 2015 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    Wow i have lived in india for the first 25 years of my life but I have never seen such a thing nor have I seen it when I go out during my visits recently. So such a thing is news to me as much as to your friends and family back home. So I have no idea why they do it, but it could be ignorance or a mere disregard for public places. I am sure you know, disregard for public places is very common in India so it would be simply that

    • Rachel Jones April 12, 2015 at 7:28 pm - Reply

      thanks for telling me – now i know if I ever see it again!

  7. Soniya April 10, 2015 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Agree with Mukesh ..washing baby’s bum in bathroom sink is not common . In fact I have not seen these things in India yet. In such cases , you can directly question the person in action .

  8. Lucy April 11, 2015 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    I love getting my India fix here! The nappy story is hilarious, I remember once seeing a mother holding her little toddler over the train lines so he could poop. Grim!

    • Rachel Jones April 12, 2015 at 7:24 pm - Reply

      Thanks Lucy! and that’s a funny story haha thanks for sharing.

  9. Jo April 12, 2015 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    It’s interesting to see your Indian readers saying the baby-in-the-skink isn’t the norm. Sometimes I think us foreigners go too far in assuming anything ‘weird’ to us is a cultural thing- sometimes people are just gross and inconsiderate!

    At almost every bus station in South America, I saw women openly washing (full on- armpits, feet, even boobs and ‘lady parts’!) in the bathroom sinks so I assumed it was one of those cultural differences. Somehow it came up in conversation with a local guy and he quickly put me straight that it wasn’t acceptable or normal, just some people behaving badly in public.

    • Rachel Jones April 12, 2015 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      That’s so true! It actually happens more often than you’d think! I ask my indian friends stuff all the time that I see and they are shocked by it as much as I am.

  10. rebecca April 14, 2015 at 5:25 am - Reply

    Being not such a maternal person I never even noticed this in India or thought about it. Interesting points though. Certainly hope I don’t get any babies peeing on me next time I visit.

  11. zahra April 16, 2015 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    Well, I am a British Indian and we use diapers on our babies. In fact, I have just returned from india a few days ago (my niece also came) and all the old aunties are forcing my sister to let her go around freely with no nappy. Thankfully she didn’t though. As for washing the bottom, I have a few family members who do this at home but use wipes when they go out so I am not sure why they did this in the cinema!

    Ah I miss India and all my relatives- although I was covered in Mosquito bites! Your posts make me feel like I’m there :)

  12. Tim UrbanDuniya April 17, 2015 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    Ahhhhhh hahahahahha I thankfully never experienced that!! I guess I wasn’t in the ladies toilet though :p

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