For the longest time now, I have wondered why it is so hard to provide clean toilets/wash rooms in Chennai. When you enter the Chennai International Airport, the first thing that greets you is the unpleasant smell wafting in from the toilets. Woe betide any person who actually wants to use these toilets. One look at the toilets and you will decide that a bladder burst is probably preferable to going through the horror of using them.
Now, if this phenomenon was universal in India, I might have chalked it to some unique Indian characteristic. However, toilets in the Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad airports seem to be well-maintained and in good condition. Why then, is it so hard to maintain similar standards in Chennai?
This phenomenon is not restricted to the Chennai airport. The other day, we went to Mayajaal, advertised as one of the "hang-out" places. The toilets there were again cringe-worthy. I am sure the story repeats itself in most commercial establishments in Chennai, that is, if they provide toilets in the first place.
In the US, I have been spoiled by the abundance of clean restrooms (most of the time), no matter where I go. Thus, I did not use to think twice before gulping down humongous quantities of water or coffee or chai before setting out somewhere. I need to curb this habit now.
I do not think that Chennai-ites have a sloppy standard of hygiene and thus are okay with the anything goes attitude. Then, why? I am unable to solve the mystery of the near unusable toilets.
Forget flyovers, the green-Chennai initiative and widespread use of cellphones. As far as I am concerned, Chennai's first step towards shining would be to provide something as basic as toilets in a decent state.
Update (August 14, 2010): I went to the Sathyam cinema complex today. I am thrilled to report that the bathrooms there were spotless and extremely well-maintained. Like my sister said, maybe I just had the bad fortune to visit the most ill-maintained wash-rooms in Chennai first!