Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Privy Behaviour



By popular request, we now run a course for Saudi ladies only. A minibus picks up these creatures of concealment from their homes and returns them thither after the lesson, that they occasion no sin on public transport. The glass panel of their classroom door is papered over so that no man is driven to a frenzy of lust through witnessing an exposed tooth or nostril. Yeah, yeah, I know, but it brings in the punters and keeps three teachers this side of penury, so I’m not knocking it.

I was sitting at my computer this morning when the course director came in carrying a plastic watering can. It was not for watering the plants, as one might reasonably suppose, but had apparently been residing in a cubicle of the ladies’ toilets, where it had served for laving the Saudi ladies’ butts and accounted for the great puddles that flowed under the door.

I’ve been thinking about this all day. We are not talking the kind of thirteen-litre job you’d use on your allotment, obviously: this is an altogether more delicate affair for houseplants, but really, why a watering can? I can think of half a dozen handier vessels for the purpose - one being a small mineral water bottle which I use myself, being sympathetic to the idea of washing afterwards. If you are hazy about Allah's rules in this regard, here are a few:

People would bring water for Muhammad to use in cleaning himself after answering the call of nature. Alternatively, he would use stones to clean himself. Three stones would be brought for his use. He specified that an odd number of stones, at least three, should always be used to clean one's private parts. The number of wipes is also to be an odd number. Muhammad specifically said that bone or dried animal feces are not to be used to clean oneself because these things are food for the jinn or, alternatively, because such fecal matter is filthy. Furthermore, the right hand is not to be used for cleaning oneself after defecating or when touching one's penis.

Even the very wipes of your bum are all numbered. Whether you should use igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic rock, or perhaps one of each, is not specified, nor does the hadith address how to treat the sore bow-leggedness that must result from wiping your arse with chunks of stone.

Most of the Saudi women arrive wearing an abaya over an ankle-length denim skirt and jeans. Going to stool in a public lav presumably necessitates divesting completely if one is to avoid soiling oneself, especially given the middle-eastern preference for engaging the pot from a perched position rather than the western enthroned one. How, crouched on the rim of the bloody pan, do you manipulate a watering can with a twelve-inch spout in the six-inch space between rear wall and rear end, and expect to be a good shot? It must be like using a porrón backwards. If there is a technique to it, none of the women has mastered it, as evidenced by the puddles. Werrll, health hazard, that is; you could slip, break a leg and catch hepatitis and that could have somebody’s eye out before you knew where you were. So their teacher had to go into class brandishing the watering can, and tell the ladies that its use was against regulations, although I doubt that anyone, if challenged, could cite an ordinance prohibiting the use of using watering cans to wash your bum on university premises. After a conference in Arabic the women agreed not to use it again. However, let teacher vigilance be unremitting, for a second watering can was removed from the same loo later this morning.

*****

Should you be anxious to comply to the letter with religious urinary and defecatory laws, go here for a comprehensive treatment, but be warned that eliminating will probably become a full-time job.

11 comments:

Bo said...

That's barmy.

Vilges Suola said...

But no more than we have come to expect.

Nik_TheGreek said...

Are you not afraid of posting jokes regarding the Koran?
Maybe you should be...

Vilges Suola said...

Μα τι λες, ρε; Να φοβόμαστε τους μουσουλμάνους; Nah. I loathe religious stupidity, not religions. Idiotic rules from ignorant times serve only to limit and separate people. I take the piss out of simple-minded christians, so why not muslims? Or buddhists, with whom I identify more than any other group? I don't give a fuck if anyone is offended - they offend me, but I don't moan about it. Well, actually i do, but don't bring cases against them or bomb their offices. Κρασί ήπια πολύ, γι'αυτό... φωνάζω.

Fionnchú said...

Exactly, VS--this is the problem, even if the Greek escapes me. Why does the Koran/Qur'an get away with being sacrosanct? Well, the slight problem with fanatics aside, the hands-off-it's-their-sacred-text PC reaction does worry me considerably. Good for you for looking up said sacred text and scrutinizing it so faithfully. My PC Corgi-a-month calendar warns Great Lent's near...

Vilges Suola said...

We are losing sight of the fact that religions are ideas, and ideas are by definition open to criticism. What's so hard to understand in the proposition: 'believe what you want, but do not expect me to believe it. Adhere to your system of morality but do not expect me to accept it, or even accept it as moral.' or hygienic...

maria verivaki said...

i am constantly amazed at how far the brit is prepared to go to cater for the highly undemocratic idiosyncratic needs of certain sectors of society - yes, it keep a few teachers in pocket; makes articles like this one sound very pertinent http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-16983788

maria verivaki said...

ps: found this very sad and poignant but absolutely brilliant piece on (mainly) gay omonoia http://athensville.blogspot.com/2010/05/1980.html
interesting analysis written by a writer of that era (in italics)

Vilges Suola said...

The 'Πως να χέζετε σωστά' poster has been around at least since the eighties in UK language schools - there were students who couldn't tell a toilet from a bath, being used to Turkish loos and showers.

Thanks for the link about gay Omonia - I'll print it out to read on the train tomorrow.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

So what did they do in Saudi before, when they all lived in tents or barasti houses and had very little water? I imagine it was considered unwise to waste the precious liquid by splashing it over their faeces-splattered buttocks, so what DID they do for their post-excretal ablutions?

I reckon they just wobbled their buttocks in the dry sand, but I could be wrong. Any theories? (And perhaps you could even ASK your ladies this question, eh, Villy-boy?)

Vilges Suola said...

Well, as the hadith says, you used an odd number of stones. Regular running water must have come as quite a relief.

I can't ask them - it's haram for me to look through the classroom door, let alone discuss their bums.

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