Is it Essential to…? by Justyna

21 Oct

Install a bidet in your bathroom?

We’ve lived in five different apartments since moving to Krakow, and two of them have had bidets installed. In fact, it appears, that once you are a happy tenant or owner of a spacious bathroom, more often than not it will come with a bidet. Why? Poles follow the general trend of other European countries by wiping their butts with toilet paper, so the immediate need to flush out your backside with a running stream of water whilst perched on a cold, low-mounted, ceramic sanitary fixture, seems unwarranted. Further, apartments and houses usually don’t have separate space allocated for laundries and washing machines (the latter are either installed in bathrooms or in kitchens), yet the bidet will somehow find its way to be part of your bathroom decor. It’s a fixture that continues to trouble me to this day, spurred recently into life since having moved yet again into an apartment that has this contraption. Why do you need it? When do you use it? At the end of the day, when, instead of having a shower you feel a need for clean genitalia only? No, I don’t need clean pits tonight thanks, just a clean bum. And if you’re the type, if there is such a type, who feels that paper wiping isn’t adequate and you prefer the bidet option, you end up half washing yourself anyway, since the contraption forces you to remove your pants and undies, leaving you dripping wet, resulting in a semi-shower state anyway (a towel in the nearby vicinity a must). What a bother.

There have been occasions I must admit, when I and Michal have used the bidet. Two occasions actually. Namely, for washing our feet in in the summer time since Krakow has fairly grimy streets and in sandal weather you return home with black toes. The bidet proved quite convenient as you didn’t have to bend too far down or sit on the slippery edge of a bathtub when scrubbing the grime away from in-between your toes. Secondly for washing off the top layer of infant poo from non-disposable nappies. Somehow the bidet, since it is after all designed for poo washing, seemed a more appropriate place for it than doing it in the bathroom sink. And that’s it. Essential? No.

Buy ‘veggie soup parcels’ wrapped in twine?

Every fruit and veg shop and supermarket in this country sells these veggie packs or veggie soup portions. It is a small collection of the essential vegetables needed when making a soup stock. So you get two carrots, a turnip, half a celeriac, a cabbage leaf and some parsley and maybe a bit of onion, all neatly wrapped in twine, ready to be popped into your pot. When I came here I thought it was an unnecessary extravagance. If you live in Europe’s soup capital and consider yourself a bit of a cook, you should have all the soup ingredients in your fridge anyway and in large quantities, I thought. How infantile and naive I was then. The veggie soup parcel is an essential element of every busy person’s fridge in Poland. It is the equivalent of the convenient ready-made, reheatable meal. It is the same thoughtless twin brother of microwave pizza. You buy, you chuck it in, hey presto, an hour and a half later you have a soup base you can do anything with! A pizza you remove from the box and then from its wrapping. A veggie soup parcel, you unravel the twine, you wash and peel the vegetables, and Bob’s your uncle. Easy and essential? Yes!

Have a really large dog in your very small apartment?

Krakow is the dog capital of Poland. The highest number of dogs per capita than any other city in the country, and from what I’ve read in the top five in all of Europe. That’s great for all the dog lovers out there. Great for Kazek who can walk about making woof woof sounds and exclaiming at the various sizes and hairiness of the four-legged creatures. Yay for dogs. My question is, is it really essential, when selecting the breed of the dog, to decide on something that weighs 80kg and is the size of a large professional athlete, whilst you, your family and the canine live on 40 meters squared?

My aunt and uncle and their 193cm son lived in a typical commie two bedroom apartment, which was the equivalent size of an Australian one bedder unit. Without laundry space. And no bidet. They were also the proud owners of a very large and very hairy collie. When it wasn’t walked three times a day it spent its hours either sprawled with its largeness and hairiness on the balcony (tiny) or in the hallway (tinier). When you wanted to leave the living room and enter either the bathroom or the kitchen, you had to traverse over the mammoth dog mound, carefully avoiding not to step on one of its limbs or its sensitive hairy bits. I was so mad at them for having this dog in this confined living space despite their utter and complete love for it, that I began to resent the dog for existing even though it was probably in constant, personal prison hell. Lucky they all moved to a massive house in the country with acres and acres of cherry orchards, otherwise I would have had to boycott all family visits.

Annoyingly my aunt and uncle were not the only ones with such a large hound indoors. You see them being walked in parks everywhere, leaving the narrow stairwells of their  doggy prisons. Golden retrievers, dalmatians, German shepherds, dobermans etc. Why? Isn’t it more convenient and economical to have a dachshund or a yapping terrier? What is it that makes a person decide to own a giant if they cannot provide the room for it? And I’m not even going to start on the poo factor. Essential? No. Annoying and borderline torturous? Yes.

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3 Responses to “Is it Essential to…? by Justyna”

  1. hanoitabitha October 22, 2011 at 5:00 am #

    So I must confess to developing quite a fondness for the Asian “poo hose”. It’s quite handy for when there’s no toilet paper (which is often in restaurant or public toilets here) and allows for much more targeted aim than a bidet. You can also clean the toilet with them, and I think they’d be great for nappy de-pooing too.

    The two truly inessential bathroom items favoured by the nouveau riche Vietnamese: a urinal placed inches from the toilet (because lifting the toilet lid is for peasants), and baths so enormous that your water tank isn’t actually large enough to fill them even half way.

    • kshyva October 22, 2011 at 9:19 am #

      Michal too loves the Asia ‘poo hose’. He even once talked of installing one on a conventional European toilet for convenience. I was all for it. And, unlike the bidet, because of the aim, you keep your knees dry!

    • bmktaylor October 22, 2011 at 9:46 am #

      We have a Little Squirt for said poo-scooting off nappies. It is very enthused. I think I’d be afraid to point it at my privates!

      I want a veggie soup parcel wrapped up in twine! So much better than the depressing ones they have here all wrapped in plastic and always including 80% parsnip!

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