Sunday, October 12, 2008

Whole Lotah Love!

I’ve always wondered whether Iris, my housekeeper at university, ever thought to herself why on earth I had a watering-can in my bathroom despite my digs being totally devoid of any greenery whatsoever. Not even a sprig of mint or coriander for garnish. She (thankfully) asked no questions and heard no lies.

The lotah, ibreeq, bottle-shottle – call it what you will – is a utensil found in many a Muslim bathroom. In its simplest form it’s a jug with a spout that’s used as a hands-on bidet. Despite the allure of triple quilted toilet paper, we continue to prefer to combine forces, or the brave just simply wash and go. It’s an ubiquitous feature of life, reflecting religious injunctions on cleanliness and ritual purity.

Traditionally it looks like an oversized teapot without a lid and is made from metal or plastic although the variations in size, shape and colour are almost endless. Logistical nightmares can arise when you’re unexpectedly faced with a different style of lotah to the one you’ve grown up with. Left-handers seem to be at a distinct disadvantage when adhering to the left hand – dirty, right hand – clean, convention.

An increasingly common modern variant of the lotah is what the plumber recently working on my uncle’s house subtly referred to as the ‘bum-shower’. These often frightfully complex gadgets are nothing more than a modified hosepipe. Attached either side of a toilet they can be the source of epic flooding disasters if the owners don’t clarify instructions before you find yourself using one.

Equally traumatic experiences can arise from finding yourself in need of a lotah when there just isn’t one around. Spurred on by the embarrassment of always taking a bottle of mineral water to the toilets or sneaking around them with moistened toilet paper, creative individuals have found an ingenious use for collapsible plastic bottles.

On honeymoon in Malaysia I encountered a Japanese inspired toilet with a built-in retractable bidet which perhaps offers the perfect harmony between water and manual input. We can only live in hope…alongside the Andrex puppy.


Anonymous said...


Random Madhouse said...

hehe...I think my flatmate is a bit confused too :P