a project for Jack Sim of WTO (World Toilet Organisation) in Singapore

Breaking the toilet taboo

……………………………………………………………. have been thinking about the toilet taboo… it runs deep man… real deep… with different cultural takes… running parallel to issues of privacy related to nakedness and touching… or even something like 'weeping'…. which is always supposed to be done in private… swept under the carpet… there is also this big issue of being conditioned…. we have all been conditioned into understanding and believing in a certain way… am reminded of my trips to tribal areas ,… where people …. men / women / kids… even dogs just shit in the open and have no issues with it … absolutely no issues… women even breast feed in the open…. we are in the broader sense going to decondition the masses and then create a positive … sexy …. sustainable trigger… which acts as a precedent…

-Sanjeev Shankar

after a few days of hibernation and informal discussions about the topic with people across different income groups … i finally seem to be getting somewhere with this challenge of changing the taboo associated with toilets….

……..was exploring the india habitat centre in new delhi today afternoon… it is THE PLACE to be in delhi if one is looking for some thing interesting…

and i see a catchy and spicy ( ! ) FLUSH FORGET poster …. about a documentary and book launch on the 18th… i went up to the CSE - centre for science and environment and spoke to the guys involved with it… got to know more than i expected…. there is a launch of a movie called FAECAL ATTRACTION on the 18th of april…. and i might get to meet the chief minister and the film maker himself… what i further picked up was the prospect of witnessing a related installation on a building facade … should see it soon… and

will keep all you guys there posted with this journey… - sanjeev shankar

ok so i took a bus from mehrauli in south delhi to india habitat centre to check out this installation…. which was supposed to start at 7:00 pm… but then … i decided to slip into the office of centre for science and environment while i waited for the installation to begin… …. sunday it was … and hence i was the only guy in the office late into night …. holding the guard who was gettign impatient to lock up… anyways whatever i read in those brief few moments about Anil Aggarwal… the guy who started CSE… touched me … really touched me… so here i am recommeding all you guys who have there hearts in the right places to read more…

ok now for the installation… it was a brief one… but what i saw in the projected stories… was the fact that there are so many shades as reactions to people and the 'discomforting' question about sanitary issues… humour… embarassement… shock… disbelief… sheer ignorance… non chalance… sheer disregard and finally.. 'who the fuck cares' attitudes…

gotta digest those moments before i get back…

till then..

dream big… fly deep sanjeev shankar 16th april

today is the 19th of april… last night i witnessed the book launch ánd film screening connected with the flush forget mindset of many of us… the entire gathering at the india habitat centre was surprisingly very much interested in the topic right from the very erudite and not so powerful to the very erudite and very powerful to even the not so erudite but still very powerful…

sunita narain who currently heads the centre for science and environment was keyed into the whole issue … however she was providing with no anwswers to this one major problem which has been a major challenge to cities globally…. sewage management…. or simply put shit management….. the delhi chief minister along with the environment minister and many other biggies were all there…. acknowledging that they had no answers and that if there were any they would certainly try them out…

gosh yesterday i witnessed in those silent faces .. a strong sense of purpose… an urge to do something…

i was reminded of professor richard horden of the horden lee associates in london wom i met in munich and when he invited me to this 2.6 metre cube… as part of the proposal for the student housing … he looked at the toilet installed there and sneered and hoped that one of us would come up with the answer to that…. a next generation toilet which does not look the way it has been for decades now… which possibly does not use water but picks up on some new technologies… may be microwaves… and on and on..

i felt that yesterday me and catherine widgery with whom i decided to go… witnessed a strong sense of toilet activism being trigerred out there with everyone saying fuck… we gotta do something or to the tune of shit… we gotta do something….

i am waiting for the day when i will meet jack sim and understand how keen he is about making a difference to this age old challenge facing all of us… until then… read on

sanjeev shankar 1910 hours india time

25th april :: 10:30 pm :: new delhi :: india

… three things happened today… atleast that is what i would like to record …. one _ i was given details about the toilet museum in delhi by a fellow irish artist and read about it on the web. two_ i read partly the TRG book which maja gifted me at the DOORS conference… three_ i am trying to make sense out of my nomadic existence where i often switch off when i am in a stinking dirty loo to one which is spick and span …. i say this because over the last month i have been switching my habitat from a very POSH farm house which has absolutely clean toilets to a temple / public setting which has poorly maintained loos… i have realised how i switch off in one and get completely turned on in the other… so the bottom liine is … they do affect me deeply… right through the day… infact they do seem to affect a lot of people globally….

i read the brief project description from jack few times last night:: we are facing a challenge here… we are basically attempting to alter mindsets…. getting people to associate toilets with great food / coffee and brilliant smells is going to be our challenge…. smell is something which we could definitely play on…. i am now reminded about its power through the recently released DAS PARFUME by eichinger…. we must definitely look at this as not only a source for differentiating our product but along with sexy sounds and tactile experience create a completely stunning experience…

i am beginning to believe that we truly have something beautiful on our hands.. an opportunity to use a repulsive association or a oddity from the social spectrum and turn it on its head… make the experience so stunning that people just can't believe that it could have been delivered by WTO… on one side i am thinking toilets… and interestingly my mind is juxtaposing it with the most beautiful imagery i can compose in my mind…

Hail the TOILET… !!

29th april:: 12:07, new delhi 44 degree celcius..

decided to goto the world toilet museum on 27th with catherine widgery… and let me simply put this on record… the place was simply as inspiring and credible as was the barefoot college in tilonia in rajasthan where catherine , me and maja went on the 5th of march. The place now part of SULABH was created by Dr. Brihadeshwar Pathak and is a one stop solution provider for toilet issues of all types with the most extensive documentation of toilet habits and anecdotes prevalent in different cultures since time immemorial. The entire journey in the heat and dust of delhi was indeed worth the effort. This trip has certainly thrown up so many questions for me and i would like to put this forth for all of you including our client. These are triggers to initiate a dialogue and better understand the scope of this project.

What is at the core of this project:

  • Why bring attention to toilets and excrement?
  • What is the most crucial role of this platform?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What is the niche market?
  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • Will we look at the broader picture?
  • Will the toilets here be different from those next door?
  • Will the system here be different from the one next door as part of the impact on ecology AND ENVIRONMENT?
  • Is there a critical physical distance between the place of defecation and the place of eating
  • Are we going to break this model and get the place of defecation at the core
  • Issues of noise – mechanical and human and smells with toilets…. Language reflect the discomfort or embarrassment which one associates with defecation or urination…. The door becomes important
  • In real estate people do enjoy having luxurious kitchens and bathrooms
  • Possibility of being a rudder, an antenna, a transmitter which challenges people’s attitudes, notions, success stories
  • Including humour associated with toilets and people…. Attitudes… notions…
  • Installations….
  • …. Connecting the ambience with nature… defecating is the most natural act … as natural as eating… green… fertile… environment…
  • creating a unique smell…. Using it as a brand differentiating element….

i do hope to get reactions from all of you out there …

signing out sanjeev shankar

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