Notes on Turkish Bidets

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Author’s note: this post contains potty humor and a rather graphic Victorian-era sketch.

Bidet is the French for pony. Etymologists find that this word stems from the notion that one “rides” a bidet much like one “rides” a pony. Well, what is a bidet? And why does this post seem to be heading in a rather PG-13 direction only five sentences in?

Bidet refers to the small nozzle integrated in many modern toilets. Popularized by the “paperless toilet” launched in Japan in the 1980’s, bidets are now widely used and quite popular the world over, with this gadget seeing bottoms in anywhere from the UK, to Africa, to South Korea. Bidets are standard features in most Arab countries and in all of Turkey. Yes, Turkey, where I happened upon my first bidet experience.

The time was 6pm, almost bath time. And I was, well, doing my business. Curious about the spout spouting out of the back of the toilet, and the small hose running from the bowl to a knob mounted on the wall, in about the place the toilet brush would be–if you needed a more precise location–I turn the knob. The water is freezing, but only a trickle. I turn the knob again. This is hilarious, I think, and laugh out loud. Freezing water shooting in the direction of my bottom, with the purpose of cleansing me in a way some people apparently do not think regular toilet paper can not. How can anyone be taking this seriously? I turn the knob again. Only this time, I’ve turned too far. My echoing laughter stops abruptly. The knob has reached it’s capacity for turning, and off it falls, rolling under the toilet. The arctic water is spraying at full blast. I panic, groping blindly under the toilet bowl for the knob that I can see, but is just out of reach. I lean slightly to the right to better my chances of reaching it, and in doing so, happen to separate my knees to balance myself…and out shoots the stream of water from between my legs, clear across the  bathroom. I now have to figure out how to contort myself into a position in which I can reach the bidet knob, which I’ve managed to knock further behind the toilet, without opening my legs for fear of flooding the bathroom with these baptismal waters. I hurriedly glance around for any supplies that might be useful in fishing out the knob. I have only a garbage can and the toilet brush at my current disposal. I grab the toilet brush. I am now whipping the brush around beside and behind the toilet, fishing for the damn knob that is no longer just out of reach, but out of sight. I’ve located the knob and toilet-brush it near enough that I can grab it in hand, letting slip a few more torrents of water from behind my clenched knees in the process. I have the knob, and fumbling…still fumbling, finally screw it back on it’s rightful post and end the waterfall.

18th century of ladies “mounted” on bidets (original caption)

There really is no moral to this story.

Susannah Woodbury
Susannah Woodbury is an ayruveda-loving expatriate yogic English tutor conquering the world one wipe-off activity book at a time. She writes collections on The English Tutor, which are experiences from a young vagabond living and working in Turkey. She explores what it means to live far outside of your comfort zone--and have the courage to walk into a new yoga studio halfway around the world.
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One Response to Notes on Turkish Bidets

  1. bidetfactory October 3, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    Hi, thanks for the blog!
    Nowadays it is important to be aware of proper hygiene, bidets are really an innovation in bathroom and toiletries technology as it turns uncomfortable things easy to deal with. Bidets also is now available with various designs. Have a blessed day!

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