Bath time Back in the Day

My Facebook feed has been flooded by Ice Bucket Challenge videos like the one above.
First it was celebs like Roger Federer, Gwyneth Paltrow, George W. Bush, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Taylor Swift, etc. getting doused by icy cold water to raise funds for ALS. But now it’s every man and his dog!

The cynic in me wonders if most people doing the Ice Bucket Challenge even know what ALS is all about (called motor neurone disease here in Australia). I wonder if they’re bothering to donate funds – or if it’s just for their 15 minutes of Facebook fame…
Ice bucket

Whatever the rhyme or reason, they’ve got nothing on what we Indians have been doing for centuries (said with tongue firmly in cheek). We used to do the “Bucket Bath Challenge” – minus the ice – every single day just to stay clean!

Having a bath in the “olden days” wasn’t a simple matter of turning on the taps and singing in the shower. In the first place, we did not have a hot water system. Strike that, there was no running water either.

Those were the days of “bucket baths”. Let me explain.
Every morning, at a designated time, my dad and my Uncle Chris would have to fill two massive metal drums with water, one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom, when the local municipality turned on the water supply. Keep in mind that this water had to last for the next 24 hours…

There were ten of us living under one roof (a large roof, nonetheless) at Anthony’s Cottage in Bandra, Bombay. Ten people sharing one toilet. Ten people sharing one bathroom. So when you wanted to have a s!*t, a shave or a shampoo, you had jolly well stick to your time-slot!
The kiddies (my cousins, my brother and I) had our allotted bath-time as soon as we returned home from school, while our parents bathed once they returned from work.
An adult first heated up a handi (vessel) of water on the kitchen stove. Once the lid started rattling, you knew the water had reached boiling point. It was then taken – very carefully – into the bathroom and poured into a brass bucket. You then added the cold water from the drum there, mug by mug, until your bathwater reached an agreeable temperature. Too little cold water and you’d scald yourself; too much and the water would be unsatisfyingly tepid.

After pouring a few mugs of water, you reached for the soap. Cinthol, Lux, Lifebouy or Hammam… Foreign bars of soap like the creamy Camay or the translucent Pears were treated like bars of gold!

And if you had to wash your hair, you had to make sure you had rationed your bathwater accordingly. A squirt of Tata shampoo rubbed into your scalp worked up a frothy lather. But your daydreams – and the soap suds – would burst when the person next in line would pound on the bathroom door demanding, “Have you finiiiiiished yet??” In one fluid motion, you would overturn the remaining water over your head – swoosh! So there you have it – the Original Water Bucket Challenge!

So tell me, what’s your preference: shower or bubble bath? Do you sing in the shower or do all your lateral thinking there? What do you think about the current Ice Bucket Challenge craze?

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