It is, of course, the era of Swachh Bharat. It has become fashionable for volunteers all over the country to turn out in their Sunday best and wield brooms. One place where this is yet to make itself manifest is the sabha. Before you run away with the idea that people are littering or committing public nuisance in sabhas let The Man from Madras Musings disabuse you of that notion. What he means is that the sabhas themselves have set such low standards for their toilets that Swachh Bharat within their premises can only be a pipe dream.

Based on his considerable experience of sabha toilets, MMM shares with you a few classifications:

The Ocean of Worldly Existence – This is the wettest place on earth, beating even Cherrapunji hollow. The taps leak, the overhead water tanks and cisterns drip and, as for the floor, it is a vast lake of a milky liquid. That last named is not to be confused with the ocean where the Preserver is said to recline on a serpent. This white fluid is phenol which is doled out in kilolitres to keep the place clean.

The Water Conservationist – Deserts could take lessons from this place, it being so dry. There is not a drop of water – in the taps, or the cisterns, or anywhere else. That does not deter our populace from using the toilets and so the entire scatological history of the sabha is available at one glance or one whiff.

The Alimentary Canal – This is structured on the same principle. The canteen is in close proximity to where the toilet is. The idea is that what goes in has to come out anyway. Those who eat do so with a full view of those who have eaten and are going about the post-prandial activities. That does not in any way affect either – the eaters and the defecators carry on merrily.

The Heritage Site – This is truly ancient. The urinal is a longish trough, rather like the kind where horses feed when in stables. Communal activity is chiefly encouraged in these places. As for the WC, it was probably imported in the years before Indian independence. There is an urgent need for repairs, but nobody is bothered, for everyone is occupied with the box office.

The Open Air – This is in reality a toilet in absentia. You are expected to make do with whatever facilities that exist, which are none. So the nearest compound wall beckons most regulars.

It never fails to surprise MMM that most sabhas who offer a lavish spread in terms of canteen facilities do not bother so much with the back-end of things. There are some, of course, who offer the very best in this aspect also, but these can be counted on one finger.