This has been on my mind for years or perhaps decades now. My friend voiced the same and asked me to blog it. She was asking how the 14-15 hour nonstop to the US would go down with me. Pretty bad, I admitted. I have a mental block when it comes to the loo used by men. I don’t trust men with hygiene! I mean, we ladies are a bit fussy about these things. First time we flew to the US, we switched flights twice. So there was no need for me to use the inflight loo shared both by female and male passengers. The transit airport restrooms saved the day for me. It was the second time I took the flight that dealt me a blow below the belt literally! Over 15 hour nonstop that was supposed to be a song, and yes indeed it was, except for the loo for me! As such I have knee issues associated with rheumatoid arthritis from my teens. This complicated matters for me. I kept crossing my legs every now and then making myself as comfy as possible. My spouse kept reminding me, what I did was not enough. I needed to empty my bladder that I refused to do. On intense pressure from him, I rose from my seat and walked the aisle to the restroom. Some three or four caucasian men stood in queue before me and each weighed a ton, towering minimum 6’2. I wondered how they would even fit into the tiny cubicle. Then I almost threw up imagining the loo after it was used by them. Right turn. I decided to hold my bladder until we landed. And even before we had the chance to approach immigration, I looked for the nearest restroom once we touched down. Return was same story. But I am more than comfortable in home turf that is Doha. I did experience slight discomfiture when I held my bladder back and my friends warned me that I must not. I am repeatedly advised by everyone not to do that. Same issue I have with trains. But in India, matter is different. We leave home after emptying our bladders and board mostly the night train. We sleep it off in our second a/c or third a/c berth. And before we know we may be arriving at our destination. Our address would be just an auto ride or uber afar. Trains too with their non segregated rest rooms have been a problem for me in the past. One way of solving it is, not setting your foot into it! But women when we are in our fertile years sometimes, cannot totally avoid visits to restrooms. That way I have. Now with the fertile years almost behind my back, I don’t have the compelling urge to visit the restroom in flight or train. Thankfully that era is coming to a close almost. But been there, done that. It is extremely inconvenient not having a demarcated loo for women in our trains and flights. Some of us women tend to have unpredictable cycles especially as we come close to menopause. We would benefit enormously by segregation of restrooms for men and women in our public transport systems. Compared to how it used to be, IRCTC have definitely improved our train restrooms with complete stainless steel fittings, still they leave a lot more to be desired.
When it comes to restroom facilities, I am most comfortable in foreign soil. Now that I am a grandma, I can appreciate the baby diaper changing rooms, feeding rooms etc., better. It is in India that we suffer most especially when we travel. We have to go look for hotels with decent restrooms. Nobody seems to bother really. I really loved the A1 petrol stations of Reliance with excellent rest room amenities. Unfortunately they had to be shut down when the gas became unviable. For a brief time I did feel safe when we drove through the highway because every 50 km to 100 km there would be a Reliance A1 petrol station with attached restaurant and good clean rest room facilities. India is manufacturing and exporting sedans, but these guys out there, do they even think about the package this must come with. 1997-2001 when our residence was in Malaysia, we could go on long drives and road trips with our little son because, for every 50 km there was even then excellent rest rooms and restaurants. What is the point in toll collection and even having the Ferrari in our roads when the basics cannot be met. I agree, the citizens lack precious civic sense. Make it payable I say! Staff it. Educate people. But do bring good restrooms to our highways.
Indians just do not understand the concept of having a dry restroom and that is a problem! They have to water down the entire compartment or airport lounge to feel clean! I wonder when we will grow up!
Anyways, I have said enough. Would be relieved if any airline gets a cue and starts setting a precedent with at least one restroom in flights earmarked exclusively for women. This will benefit a lot, especially women having their periods. Experience! Same goes for our trains.
In nonstop long haul flights, there are at least four restrooms for economy class passengers apart from those reserved for business class. Why can’t at least one of the restrooms be reserved exclusively for women. The other three can be common loos. Just a thought.
I have to thank my friend who asked me not to hold back both my bladder and my peeve against the flight restrooms that is a nagging issue with me always! One of these days I would like to see one restroom at least in flights marked for women. I guess, this is subject for conversation and consideration only with Asian women. There is widespread equality among sexes in the Europe and America. However, in my limited time and exposure in these two continents I still found restrooms segregated for sexes and no common restrooms (at least so far). So why can’t we have restrooms for women in flights? I agree inflight space is precious. We are not asking for extra space creation here. Seeking only allotment of one of the four economy class restrooms in long haul flights exclusively to women.