If there’s one contraption that Indians hold close to their hearts and bums, it’s the “jet spray”. Also known as the bidet shower, butt hose or bum gun, it’s a handheld mini shower, ideally with a water pressure that’s neither too weak to hose out poo bits nor so strong that it’d hurt the butt crack.
In several Asian countries, private and public toilet facilities are built with the assumption that it’s water and not toilet paper that should clean our post-poo asses.
In Japan, they have fancy toilets that shoot water from all different directions, and at all temperatures. In much of Europe they use the bidets. In Thailand you’ll find a hand sprayer attached to each toilet. Back in India, the traditional use of a mug of water and the hand has been giving way to “jet sprays” that take just a bit of plumbing and a couple hundred rupees.
It might be ridiculed by people who have never known the glories of channeling water to clean up their nethers but the solo use of toilet paper is not just gross but also unhygienic. In my experience, the real master is the one who first hoses it down and then uses a small wad of toilet paper or a napkin to pat it dry – thereby getting the best of both worlds.
The jet spray is one of those inventions that you don’t miss until you don’t have it. Even though bidet sales have gone up after the famous toilet paper shortage in western countries when the pandemic hit, the beloved jet spray is still awaiting its time in the sun. What do Indians abroad do in the meantime? We asked them.
Sync their pooping and shower routines
“It was an uncomfortable shift. I have had to make peace with using toilet paper but honestly, I dream of the day I’m able to buy a house and install jet sprays in all toilets. I sync my pooping schedule with my showers. It’s one step closer to making my buttcrack feel cleaner.” - Shaunak Kulkarni, 30, Washington D.C., USA
Bulk buy wet wipes
“I miss bum sprays a lot. I have found ways to get around the situation like using wet wipes and portable bidets but they’re too cumbersome. It’s especially hard when you’re in a public toilet. I bulk buy wet wipes to get by. I know people who carry bottles of water in public but I personally find that too gross.” - Naasir Feroz Khan, 24, Southampton, UK
Use a portable bidet
“When I first moved into my shared apartment, the reality of the lack of jet sprays finally hit me. It feels so strange that no one here uses it. I thought I’d ask my landlord and get an external jet spray fitted but that’s not an option due to housing rules. For now, I use a portable bidet that isn’t very effective but does the work. When I’m outside, I always use toilet paper even though I lowkey feel like my bum is never clean enough.” - Uday Akasapu, 27, Wels, Austria
Grudgingly use toilet paper
“I’m used to toilet paper by now but let’s be honest, it takes up so much more time. I worry about how long I spend in bathrooms, especially in public ones. Other people around me seem to have gotten used to using toilet papers and are quick with the process. But wiping the butt just takes too long for me and if I’m outside, say at a friend’s place, I keep thinking about how they might find the time I spend in bathrooms weird. I’m also worried about the environmental impact of toilet paper; it bothers me so much because I know how easy it is to not have to waste so much paper. Currently, I am back in India for a few weeks and thoroughly enjoying the luxury of the jet spray.”- Arnav Binaykia, 20, divides his time between India and New York
Laugh at toilet paper stockpilers
“I was warned before I came to the U.S. around two-and-a-half years ago about the woes of the non-jet spray life. I think toilet paper is unhygienic as hell, especially for us Indians who've known the luxury, convenience and hygiene of a bidet. It amuses me everytime I see a tweet about an American discovering bidets and then recommending it as a must-have. The doomsday scenario at the beginning of the pandemic when everyone was stockpiling toilet rolls was just extremely funny. For now though, I don’t have a choice but to stick to TP. - Ayushmita Rao, 24, Los Angeles, USA
Travel to places with a bidet
“I was warned by Facebook groups about adjusting to toilet paper or fitting in a jet spray when I first moved out of India. I’ve tried talking to my roommates about getting a jet spray fitted but I don’t think they’re very comfortable with the idea. It’s still uncomfortable and possibly one of the biggest things I miss about India. Wet wipes and portable bidets are just not an option since they are out of my budget. I also travel often, so I’ve had to get used to toilet paper. When I’m in France, I’m relieved. They use bidets which are much more comfortable than the absolute hell that is toilet paper.” - Ravali Gudipalli, 23, Innsbruck, Austria
Pay for an expensive jet spray at home
“My family and I can’t live without it. When I purchased a house in Singapore, I specifically made provision for a jet spray during the renovation. My wife is Vietnamese and she laughed her heart out as she had never seen one before. That was probably the first time she knew how Indians are different in that particular aspect. When we had a kid, she did appreciate it since it made the baby’s bumwashing job so much easier.” - Raman Kumar, 47, Singapore
Settle for wet wipes
“When I got accepted into my graduate program in California in 2019, I wondered for a solid minute about my bottom cleaning practices. I know people carry portable bidets and water bottles with them but for that, you need a reliable and consistent source of water supply. Unfortunately, many toilets in the U.S. do not have a working water supply or faucets near the toilet. Many people here shower immediately after pooping and/or use wet wipes.
I was diagonised with an anal fistula just before the pandemic, and needed seven surgeries for it. This means I have to keep my butt spotless. Ever since, I’ve carried around a portable bidet, wet wipes and some gauze because my fistula drains outside all the time through a wound near my anus. The toilet in my apartment doesn't have a bidet/jet spray right now but I’m in the process of getting one.” - Prerna Srigyan, 27, Irvine, USA