On the subject of signs from around the world, here's a gem from Jakarta. Courtesy of Times Online.
And it reminds me of a story about a man I once knew...
Now, I am open-minded about the ways people choose to defacate. I have travelled and lived in countries where the squat loo is the preferred option and there is a lot to be said for the inherent hygiene in not sitting on the same seat occupied by a thousand other arses. And I've shat in the Sahara, where a shovel is more your modus operandi.
That said, if I know it's clean, I'll opt for the Western sit-down option every time.
But in the years I had a Turkish boyfriend I failed to realise something fundamental until almost the end of our relationship. The fact was, whether he was faced with a squat loo, or a Western loo, he squatted. Not by hovering over the Western loo-seat, thighs a-quiver, like your mother taught you to do in public toilets. Nope. Despite having a Western loo in his modern apartment, every time he used it, he clambered up onto the rim and squatted. As demonstrated in the sign from Jakarta above.
How did I discover this?
One morning, in Turkey, a friend of mine stayed overnight at the apartment. The next day, after his morning visit to the loo, the Turk, an occasional modern man, decided to cook us ladies both breakfast. As he was clattering around the kitchen waving pans around, my friend drew me to one side and silently squirming, pointed out some poo on his slipper.
There's poo on his slippers she whispered, And I'm not going to be the one to tell him!
She was right. On his right slipper, there was a sticky lump of fresh poo in a lurid shade of browny yellow.
It did not look like animal poo...
We both reached the horrible, inevitable conclusion at the same time.
Eurgh! You've pooed on your slippers! we squealed together.
It took him a split second to look down and realise what had happened.
ANANIN AMINI SICKERIM!*
He jumped straight out of the slippers and ran round the apartment, barefoot and swearing. And all the while, my friend and I sat there sniggering.
In his humiliation he blamed cats, dogs, monkeys, birds - anything that could possibly have let themselves into the locked stairwell overnight and shat on his slippers.
We knew it was no cat.
We knew it was because he climbed on top of Western loos to squat, like all good village boys did. And on this particular morning, had slightly misjudged things.
What's more, it's clearly not a habit confined to Turkey. I've seen tell-tale footprints on loos in Morocco. And this sign from Jakarta confirms it. There are village boys everywhere, squatting on a loo near you.
The slippers were, if you're wondering, thrown out. As was I, about a month later.
Maybe it was the sniggering that pushed him over the edge.
*Turkish for doing some terrible to someone's mother.