• this is india 118

This is India! 118

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’m just spending a low key weekend in Goa since I’m off for a MONTH on Monday. I go to Israel for a week, then straight to London for Ben’s sister’s wedding and to see his friends and family. I love his hometown even though he says he could never go back and live there. It’s really cute! His grandma’s house looks like something from a fairytale too. After London I go to Latvia for 5 days then to Morocco, getting back to Goa October 17th. A little over a month of travels that seem to have come out of nowhere!
  • I guess you can imagine with all the traveling, it’s hard to get work done… so this weekend I’m doing some and getting organized for the travels ahead. I’m also packing and will write a guide (eventually) to how I pack for a month in such random places all in one suitcase.

Now your story,

If you’ve been to India, you probably know that the bathroom situation is different from home. In fact, its so different that some people don’t want to come to India.

It’s said Indians eat with their right hand because the left is “dirty” and that is because some places, a hand is used to help with erm, bathroom duties. There is no toilet paper except in upscale hotels, and westernized restaurants and homes.

There is either a bucket of water or there is a bum gun. Even the nicest homes here have a bum gun and Indians actually think it’s gross we don’t use one in the West.

I’ve been here over 3 years and it quickly became the norm. To be fair, it’s cleaner to spray off.

bum gun

While people abroad may think it’s uncivilized the truth is the bum gun/toilet paper issue isn’t an issue at all here – the problem is actually lack of toilets and it’s a HUGE problem. So big that it was part of Modi’s platform to get a toilet in every house in India… which hasn’t happened (yet).

I came across this article: Why Manoj Still Takes a Dump in the Sea which is why I’m writing this article. I want you to take a read if you have time and it will help you see a side of India you might not know about. It’s sad and it’s unfortunately a huge part of life in India. I know toilet talk is a little weird, but this is worth a read.

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. cindy duffy September 11, 2016 at 2:35 am - Reply

    Forty-one years ago we backpacked throughout India. The first week we were in Bombay and booked a first class train to I don’t remember where. But anyways we were put in a compartment with some very proper Indian gentlemen and when our meal was brought to us we all settled down to eat. My husband and I both used our hands to eat our food and the gentlemen immediately left in a huff without finishing their meal. We had the compartment to ourselves for the duration of the trip! It was only after telling our story to someone did we find out about which hand to eat with and why. Back then we only saw buckets of water and bidets but no bum guns.

    • Rachel Jones September 11, 2016 at 1:35 pm - Reply

      Haha oh that’s funny! I found out when I handed money with my left hand in the market. The guy refused to take it!

  2. Lauren September 11, 2016 at 8:25 am - Reply

    Wow! That article about Manoj is an eye opener! I still have tears. I’m currently in Goa, no toilet paper in the place I am staying, just a bum gun. But ,no complaints. At least I have a toilet here! A lot to be grateful for. I really hope that Mode can get this toilet for every household gig together.

    • Rachel Jones September 11, 2016 at 1:36 pm - Reply

      Hi Lauren, I”m glad you read the article about Manoj – it’s really something that I think people traveling in India would be interested to know about.

  3. Betsy September 12, 2016 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    I did not read the article yet, I will. Here in Udaipur you can buy toilet paper everywhere, so that is not a problem. However, a few weeks ago I was experiencing Delhi belly. I had gone for a walk and needed to go to the bathroom. I went to a friends house and on that day no toilet paper; just the tap next to the toilet and a cup. Honestly it was the first time I have ever used my hand and it was not so bad.
    The toilet thing is interesting here.

    • Rachel Jones September 13, 2016 at 4:15 pm - Reply

      Hi Betsy,

      It’s always SO weird the first time haha but you’re right it’s not that bad :)

  4. Soniya September 14, 2016 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel,
    Yes, the toilet style is really different here and bum gun is becoming a norm. To be honest, I feel to use water is a much better way to clean. In fact, Indians also feel uncomfortable with all those tissue paper things when abroad. Just not used to it :).

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