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Toilets in Public Places - Examples to learn from!

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In my last visit, during a shopping visit to Commercial Street, inquired with a Shop Owner for using the 'Toilet'. He casually requested my to either use the filthy public toilet opposite to M N Textiles or use the one in Woody's Restaurant. Then I started to inquire many shop keepers and their employees about how do they manage? Their reply was many run to various Mosques and many just find a place to relieve themselves in the open. If I have understood them correctly, none of the shops has their own toilets and mostly depended upon public facilities outside. It's definitely a real problem for our women folks.

If 'Commercial Street' being the hotspot of Bengaluru's upper class shopping escape, do not have the basic facilities for their own use and for the public, I am now wondering what is the state in Cubbon Park, Lal Bagh and other public places? Even if exists, how are they maintained.

Why suddenly this question? Last week in my first visit to Ottawa in Canada took my family to see the magnificent 'Parliament Building' of Canada.

Every day there are 'Free Guided Tours' and while waiting for one such tour, I felt the need to go to 'Toilet'. Found a sign pointing towards 'Restrooms' in the corner. Walked in to find out that there are separate MEN and WOMEN section. The MEN section was huge with both Urinals and Stalls. The toilets were sparkling clean and tidy like we keep at our homes. You enjoy relieving in such cleaned and smell like fresh toilets. :)

After the tour, my children started making noise that they are hungry and forced me take them to a 'Shawarma' Place, a Lebanese eatery. As usual all fo them made a line to restroom in the restaurant after drinking loads of Soda. The place was hardly bigger than any of our medium size 'Darshinis'.

This was in Ottawa, Canada. While driving in both directions, for about 10-12 hrs each way, made at least 4-5 stops for using the restroom in designated Rest Areas along I-81 Route in USA. Every rest area appeared to be clean and fresh. In one such rest area, they had a good picnic table placed under shaded trees. We did ate our lunch on one such place followed by making prayers (Namaz) on the well maintained grass area. My kids didn't loose the chance to buy their favorite candy from the vending machines. Every Rest Area had 2 employees constantly working to keep the place clean. They were all state employees and the rest areas are maintained by the state. No Private Contractors.

In between the rest areas, every exit to towns/hamlets has Gas/Eateries outlets. Even they sport a decent 'Restrooms' with clean toilets and water availability.

Moral of the story - Well maintenance of Public Toilets/Restrooms in public places, travel routes both by private and public agencies.

'This demolishes the theory of private Vs public for public good. In US and Canadian experience both doing their work. So what's the difference between India and countries like US/Canada? Culture? Attitude? Priorities?



Rest rooms and other basic amenities in C. St

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As part of our research onpedestrian friendly C. St, we did found that one of the reason why people prefer malls (as accused by C. St merchants association for the decline in their business in the recent past) that C. St lacks basic infrastructure for any individual; whether you are rich or poor. While we had an informal discussion with one of the office bearers of merchants association, he did mention that the associationis in discussion with many eateries on the street to allow people to use their rest rooms. But I have not seen any change in teh scenario. While we did try to interact with the merchant association on this officially, noneof them are available or not interested to hear what we have to say. Definitely these kinds of small issues (as per them) is a big concern for a shopper when they have to spend couple of hours on street either for window shopping or for real shopping. Definitely people find malls more attractive than C. St. Unless merchnats association are open to the idea of their very own customers and are ready to accomodate the need of their customers, defintely they are going to lose their business very soon.

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