Optimizing the wet room

12:42 PM

With DH away on a business trip I’m still going to stick to easy blog posts as day after day my level of energy is going down being on double shift duty. Weekends are probably even more demanding than week days since I am stripped of my 2 hours of quiet peaceful time. Anyway, I have plenty of pictures on my computer, a black book full of ideas, and if all fail some noodles to review. Today however, there will be no noodles to blog about, I have enough material to blog on something else.

A while back I was writting about your typical Indian bathroom. Which is pretty much just a room that gets wet all over and is a pain to use and keep clean. The one we had in our old rooftop apartment in Bangalore was the type were you could not even separate with a shower curtain. The ones we had in Navi Mumbai and in the 2011 Bangalore flat were at least having a slight, albeit ridiculous dividing line in the way of a difference of 5mm in height between the shower area and the rest of the bathroom. In Bangalore, we had 3 bathrooms and one was pretty much a storage room/guest toilet. To hide the mess, we did buy a shower curtain. The mess stayed hidden in the shower area and the bathroom remained usable for guests. If we stayed longer we would have upgraded all 3 bathrooms with curtains. But, if you remember well, we had money issues back then too.
The previous flat here in Mumbai had the coolest western style bathrooms with a wet and dry area properly segregated with glass doors and a sink sitting on a counter so we could keep our toilettrie where they belonged instead of cramming them in always too tiny wardrobes.
No such luck in this new flat however. We are back to old fashioned Indian style wet rooms and all three look like this:


This is the one that is attached to the study and is now DH’s bathroom, when I took this pic we were just moved in and still waiting on the plumber and electricians to fix the “common bath” that is now my bathroom. The third wet room is in Ishita’s room. DH and I preferred the layout of the bathroom less room for our own use. Because Ishita is not going to use the shower on her own for years to come, that master bath has become the official storage room where the old shower curtain we had all along went back to hiding some of our mess.
As you can see, it’s a room where there is no distinction between wet and dry, other than the same old 5mm difference in floor levels. you shower in there without a curtain and it is guaranteed that you’ll have water absolutely everywhere.

The first thing we asked the carpenter to do was to put shower curtain rods everywhere (they are basically regular curtain rods because the spring extendable ones you find in the west are very hard to find in India). We also bought wire racks to mount on the walls to store our stuff as the typical Indian bathroom will not let you have a wooden cabinet unit under the sink and usually lacks storage nooks too. These have window sills you can use to put your shampoo bottles on in the shower corner but that is about it. So here is what we ended up doing:


We first bought wall mountable wire racks to store our bathroom essentials as there is nowhere else to put things. If you look closely, you'll notice that even the soap dispenser is not standing too well on the edge of the bassin.

Once the water heater and plumbing in my shower got fixed, I needed a shower curtain. Because, if a single grown up use an Indian bathroom to take a shower you splash a little water all over. Throw a toddler into the equation and you have Tsunami Grade flood on your hand every single time your little sweetie uses it. Making it dangerous to both the parent and the kiddo as it gets slippery. So here is how my shower now looks:


As you can see I made full use of the window area to hold all the shower essentials, and we were fortunate that in this flat the owner thought to put some towel rods. We won't have to try to find a way for them not to get wet on the ground while we shower. And if you think I am making this up, we had to find ways for them not to get wet in all the previous wet rooms and the tiny hooks on the door can’t hold a towel long enough half of the time which result in said towel to inevitably fall on the ground and soak up the wet puddles left by your shower use. And to those Indians reading this now wondering why I shower and not use a bucket…personal preferences cannot be discussed. But I will say that bucket and mug use do not result in less splashing, in fact in all the instances of me, DH or relatives bathing desi style we actually ended up with wetter and more slippery bathrooms than with the shower head.
Anyway notice my pretty pink curtain? I opened it just for the picture. It looks like this the rest of the time:


Since my bathroom is also the common bathroom, I don’t need my guests to have a full view of my wet quarters and choice of shampoos and soaps or a look at my loofah. Ideally they should not have a view of my deodorant and face cream either because in Switzerland it is considered bad taste to let your guest see your personal care items. And I’d like to honour that as much as I can in my home. DH’s bathroom is still curtain less, it’s the next one to get an update but DH isn’t particularly caring about his bathroom getting splashed all over, he pretty much uses it only to shower, and it can remain wet without him caring or having to bother stepping into wet puddles when he go use the toilet and then leave dark footprints all over the house as a result, because he actually like MY bathroom for his other bathroom businesses, and thanks to my little improvement mine stays dry almost all the time. The only exception is when the maid washes it and still doesn’t get that she can use the mop broom to do so, and instead does what every maid will do, pour a bucket or two of water and then use a plastic broom to push the 8+ litres of water down the shower drain, never mind it doesn’t clean well and that all it does is wasting water, that’s what she does despite my having told her a million time not to do it. She was even doing it in my old bathroom with wet and dry areas. So I made my peace with that, refuse to go into endless battles about it, and just drag the mop broom in there after she left to mop it clean and dry.
This little post is just to show that even if you are used to practical bathrooms and inherit a crappy one in India you can still work with it. The curtain rod installed by the carpenter will not cost you more than 1 or 200 rupees, and the shower curtain I have in there did cost me 599 rupees with the hooks. It’s washable, and can prevent a nasty fall due to slippery wet surface.So by all mean a fortune would it be just to prevent me or my daughter from sustaining potentially life threatening injuries.

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  1. apple2:52 PM


    When I went through various expat blogs I realized that there is something called "wet bathroom" and "dry bathroom". I also realized that Indian bathroom and toilet are something of a cultural thing. Ever since, I have looked at the Indian style toilet with much admiration. I grew up knowing a bathroom to be bathroom and nothing else. In India, bathroom and toilets came late and were no more than functional. Most people would love to have a bathroom no matter what. I spent my entire life in govt accommodations in Delhi. It typically had toilets separated from bathrooms. So I believe is the case with most traditional Indian households as it is considered unclean to get in contact with toilet while taking a bath.

    In most urbanized village in Delhi, the toilets were added as an afterthought typically located outside the house near the door. Anyway, the western complain about bathrooms does amuse me no end.

  2. Well, up here at our 'Himalayan Hovel' we have the most bizarre bathroom set up I've ever seen. Although we are blessed with 'flush toilets' in our 2 indoor bathroom it is impossible to separate the wet 'shower' area by a curtain. The arrangement is thus - sink in front of door(with drain for entire bathroom under it), shower head/area in the center, and flush toilet in the far corner. That's right the showers are shoved in between the toilets and the sinks, no 5 mm separation & all drains slant towards the sink & door. Yes, every time someone takes a shower or 'bucket bath' the entire bathroom is soaked from toilet to sink. The window sill (by the sink) & the 'shower caddy' that hangs over the shower head are all the bathroom storage there is. Some brilliant soul installed towel bars on the wall directly across from the shower heads - so of course they're useless because the towels get soaked whenever anyone takes a shower.


    But here is a helpful tip- If you are like me you have zillions of dupattas, scarves, shawls etc to coordinate with your Indian wardrobe. Keeping them sorted & stored so you can find the one you need can be quite a chore. So take some of those shower curtain rings, hang about 12 on the bottom bar of a strong clothes hanger 'et voila' you have an inexpensive hanging 'organizer' for you dupattas, scarves, & shawls!

    Like this-


  3. A Merican Punjaban PI9:55 PM

    Every hotel I stayed in while traveling around India had a wet bathroom. I stayed in Delhi, Amritsar, Agra, and Rishikesh and they all had the same things. Of course, they had "western style" toilets in my rooms. All of my friends in Mumbai and Kerala say wet bathrooms are common there as well. Our home had 2 toilet areas separate from the bathing room though. Maybe the difference is in what type of accommodations you stay in.

    When I went to Beas the toilets were separate from the bathing area and that was interesting to me.

    American bathrooms are very different from the wetrooms of India. We complain about the wetrooms because we don't like the floor always being wet from showers. It's considered a huge safety risk. We also typically don't feel wetrooms are as clean as our traditional bathrooms. IMO, wetrooms are kind of nasty but so are most Indian showers. It seems that the thought behind the shower is that people bathe in there and it gets clean on it's own but that's simply not true. It doesn't matter how much soap you splash around in there, the bathing area still is where you get all the dirt, grime, germs, and other filth off of your body. It needs cleaning even more than the toilet area.

  4. Wet Room5:45 PM

    Really great. You are doing an amazing job. Keep it up! and very beautiful pictures


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