Guest post by Bhakta Ed.
The events of this post are actually set in time prior to my leaving Minnesota in the RV. I was so deeply traumatized by the things I am about to disclose to Gosh’s loyal readers, that I am only now able to “go public”. Let’s just dive in. Bad choice of words. Sorry.
Poop, feces, bowel contents, fecal material and waste. There, I said it. There are many other names for the stuff, but these set the mood well enough. Poop is important. We have to deal with it, whether it is the poop of a baby or an entire city. I once read a very interesting article on the advancement of Western Civilization being dependent on the invention of the flush toilet and sewer lines. In fact, between 1868 and 1883 the rate of death from typhoid per 100,000 in Germany dropped from 80 to 10. This was due to the invention of the Lindley sewer lines by William Lindley, British engineer.
In many healthcare systems such as Chinese medicine, the frequency, color, odor, amount and consistency of poop tells a lot about the patient’s condition. Diagnosis and treatment can be resting on the patient’s poop. That sentence could conjure up some odd visuals, but I am going to leave it.
So, I hope you understand that I have nothing against the stuff. It must be acknowledged and handled. It must be dealt with. Better. It’s just that I don’t really care for it that much. When asked if I was bringing any pets or people on my pilgrimage, I replied, “Not if they poop”. Naturally this does not include me. Exceptions must be made. For an informative article on different ways of dealing with personal poop check this out.
With all this as a backdrop let the tale begin. Romapada Swami had told me that I could come down to Chicago early in December to meet with him concerning various Krishna conscious topics. I flew down after securing lodging in the ashram during my stay. After greeting the amazing Deities a very nice devotee showed me to my room. It was a Sunday, so later there was kirtan, a talk and the feast. I spoke briefly with Romapada Swami that night reminding him of our meeting the next day. I went to bed early and slept well.
In the morning, my body wants water and a place to put some waste materials. It can be demanding about this. I went to the bathroom where I found the floor around the toilet to be wet. “If you can’t aim your pee into the bowl then sit like a female”, I thought. I finished and reached for the toilet paper. And that is all I did. There was none. Not even a toilet paper holder. I carefully got up and walked rather like a cowboy who has spent too many days in the saddle. I looked everywhere. To my absolute and genuine horror there was no toilet paper. Then I noticed a bottle of water on the floor. It was half full. I didn’t care if it was somebody’s drinking water. I poured it where it was needed. The floor got wetter. That didn’t work, so I just got in the shower and did my best without touching any poop. Now look! Stop laughing. My mother taught me never to touch poop. Period.
I felt disgusting. I was going to walk to a gas station. Luckily there was a devotee walking down the hall. I said, “You are out of toilet paper”. He gave me the strangest look. I asked where I could get some and he replied that he didn’t think that there was any in the entire building. None??? Things were worse than I imagined. I felt bad for all the devotees so I thought I would go out and buy one of those big 50 roll packages.
On my way out of the building I saw the public or guest restrooms. I looked inside. Thank Krishna!!! Toilet paper. That nice devotee was wrong. There was some after all. I corrected the problem and changed clothes. Then I had a nice 70 – minute meeting with Romapada Swami up in his room. Civilized people do not talk about poop. The problem was solved so I didn’t mention it to him. Thankfully.
Little did I know that I had stumbled on to exactly how it is to be done. Really? Yes. No toilet paper was not a mistake… no kidding. This is something they don’t tell you when they say “chant the Maha Mantra and your life will be sublime”. They don’t reveal that if you chant Hare’ Krsna you will never use your left hand again.
Well, I have decided that enlightenment has nothing to do with how you deal with poop. I now carry a roll with me. I have decided that some water in addition is a great idea. But my return “back to Godhead” is going to include toilet paper and sewers. Maybe squatting for increased anatomical and physiological advantage too. But if we ever meet, you need not fear the bacterial count of my left hand. It will be pristine.
On the road in his RV Bhakta Ed visits a trucker’s bathroom that does have toilet paper.
Okay, for those who have experienced this cultural shock vicariously through Bhakta Ed, the humor in the following will now be revealed: