In October, I joined the Kwan Um School of Zen for a two-week pilgrimage to Buddhist sites in Northern India, followed by another week of travel with several friends. Notes from the road…

As we travel from place to place, toilet stops every two hours or so are an unexpected source of enjoyment. Sometimes the buses stop at grungy rest areas, but just as often we are “toileting” in nature. The men pee quickly and then retire to smoke cigarettes, while the women coalesce into a comradely band as we search the bush for suitable coverage. Our tour guides are willing to erect paper port-a-johns (the blue thing in the picture below), but most of us prefer to find a tree and squat. Diana says, “I’m at a point where I don’t care who sees my butt!”

Which is a good thing, because no matter how remote the location, people instantly materialize from nowhere to enjoy the spectacle.  These men and boys are watching the action from the road. The women below, who are collecting kindling, came along during our pee stop in a teak forest.

Elsewhere on the road, we have to come to terms with the Indian-style toilet. Western seats can be found here and there, but the norm is the squattie with a faucet and bucket for bottom-washing. (Toilet paper is strickly a bring-your-own affair.) Thanks to yoga and good knees, I’ve found this operation do-able and even sort of fun, once I got the hang of it. Here’s a video on how to use an India toilet, in case you’re curious. The video is posted on Breath, Dream, Go, a wonderful website for anyone interested in India.