A friend of mine visiting Turkey commented on a squat toilet with the words: ‘Well, things are just less hygienic in Turkey than in the Netherlands, aren’t they?’ I smiled and didn’t bother trying to convince her otherwise. I mean, she had to go back to Holland and still feel okay using public sit-down toilets, so I thought it would be nicer to just let her maintain her delusion.
I admit, when I first came to Turkey I too was unhappy with the squat toilets. I knew them from holidays around the world, but that was an inconvenience that would last a maximum four to five weeks. In Turkey, I wouldn’t be able to avoid them in many places, year after year. How happy I was when, for example, in a roadside restaurant on a stop over on a long-distance bus trip , there would be two or three ‘normal toilets’ too, not only squat ones. And they were always unoccupied, because when a Turkish woman in such a roadside restaurant, with about twenty to thirty toilets in a row, opens a door to a toilet and finds its ‘a sit-down’, she immediately closes the door again. She refuses to use that sort of toilet, she prefers a normal one. I remember one roadside restaurant that thought it was a good idea to renovate and only install sit-down toilets. The complaints I heard all came down to: aren’t there any normal toilets here?
Over time, I’ve learned to appreciate the squat toilet version. The good and totally hygienic thing is that you don’t touch anything, with any body part. And Turkey, my dear readers, is not like, for example, India: most of the public toilets here are very, very clean – never hesitate to use them.
Some nights ago, at a roadside restaurant during a stop over on a long-distance bus trip, I found myself even more integrated. I opened a toilet door and saw a sit-down version, with a wet seat. Must have been some western woman messing things up. Yuk. I don’t use them anymore, I prefer a normal toilet!