If you were a Roman, Born 2000 years ago, you would have, after a hard day's work, gone to a public bath complex. You would have had a dip in a hot or cold pool. Sat in a steam or sauna room and perhaps enjoyed a gossip session with your friends. The Roman baths were after all a gathering point and a developer of a community.
Considering the spectacular art, architecture and the history of the Romans, I completely understand an European's obsession with anything Roman, be it roads, edifices or aqua ducts but to be enamored with the ideology of a public baths still, in my opinion, is a bit too much.
Bathrooms in European apartments generally do not have locks. Anyone can walk in while you are in there. The first time I went to a lock less bathroom, I was in Cambridge, U.K. I was in my cousin's apartment. There was no lock visible on the door. That was nothing new. In Europe most of the bathroom fixtures are not visible. You wave a hand and water miraculously appears from the taps. Another wave and the W.C. flushes. Expecting the technology had made the lock disappear, I stood there for ten minutes doing various waving acts from different angles. Nothing happened. No click, no shut. Finally admitting defeat, I came out and and asked my cousin about the door lock playing hooky. "It's not there", she said rather apologetically. "What? Not there? Any body can walk in while you know...?" Well, hell. it was a lesson in culture, but what do you do?
So there began my quest for a solution to this unique European issue. In U.K., I tried singing aloud every time I was in the bathroom. So now you know why 'bathroom singer' is an English expression. Has any body heard a 'Shauchalay Gayak'? No translation possible in any Indian language.
In another places I tried to keep the possible intruders away by keeping a heavy object against the bathroom door. Chairs. Stool. Microwave. Anything man, I was desperate. I also found a heavy object and a loud singing combination worked better. Sort of like a double lock. Just when I thought I had installed a perfect security system, I was foxed in Amsterdam. The door to the bathroom was sheer glass. Can you imagine that? My song and chair combo could keep away intruders but what about prying eyes? When I expressed my concern to my husband, he appeared hurt. "After so many years of marriage you do not trust me to be ethical? You think I will barge in when you are most vulnerable?"
"Well sorry honey, I don't. And I trust my two little devils even less. They are yet to grasp this concept of privacy." So this time it was a chair, my loud voice and a bed sheet hung over the sheer door.
Completely disgusted with the flawed sense of design,(Roman or not), I vented my anger. How completely vulgur and what an utter lack of courtesy. My husband looked up from his breakfast cereal and said calmly, "Every day, on way to work, Mumbaiites in trains are greeted by the sight of hundreds of people squatting beside railway tracks doing their dirty jobs. It is better to have a lock less bathroom than to have none at all".
Well guys, I was completely stumped. What do you think? Lock less in Europe or shameless in India?