Oh, hi there. You just caught me finishing a bucket bath... "what's that!?" you ask? Bucket baths are how you bathe when your lodgings lack bath tubs or shower heads. Basically you fill a big bucket with water then use a smaller bucket to pour the water over yourself while trying to lather/rinse/rub at the same time. I've been working on my technique these last few days but I still have a number of problems with the process.
- It's hard to get the temperature of the bucket water just right -- at any given time you can only add hot water or cold water to the bucket, so it's a delayed feedback system with a fixed deadline (the bucket edge). After a few days practice I'm now able to get a satisfactory temperature, but doing so requires diligence and sustained monitoring of bucket temperature.
- Perhaps the greatest mystery in my mind about bucket bathing is how I'm supposed to wash my arms. I generally pour with one hand and rub with the other, but on the arms I can either pour with no rubbing or try to awkwardly pour onto the arm holding the bucket while rubbing the arm down gently so I don't splash water everywhere. It's very inefficient; I think I use 1/4 of the bucket water on just my arm & shoulder regions.
- Finally, bucket bathing requires me to stand naked in the middle of a bathroom and pour water on myself. Standing in a running shower is mentally acceptable, but standing around naked without water constantly running over me is strangely unsettling. It's clearly a silly cultural thing, but I'm having trouble adjusting.
While we're on the matter of washroom cleansing, let me just answer the one question I know you've all been asking yourselves: No, they don't use toilet paper in India. They instead use, you guessed it, buckets of water. No, no, you don't sit in the bucket; you pour the water down your backside.
I'm fine with about 3/4ths of this method -- feel free to read an extended critique of toilet bucket system in my new book entitled OK, My Butt is Clean and Dripping Wet... Now What?.