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Sydney, Australia
My musings and meanderings on childhood - mine juxtaposed with that of my kids'. Everyday incidents and images from our life in Sydney turn my thoughts towards my own wonder years growing up in Bandra, Bombay, India.

12 April 2011

A Splish and a Splash

“It’s bath-time,” I call out to the kids. “Ba-bulls! (bubbles),” Caleb squeals with excitement, while Caitlyn runs to fetch an assortment of toys – rubber ducks, pots and pans, two dinosaurs (don’t ask!). Yes, my kids love to make a splash at bath-time.

But having a bath in the olden days (okay, okay, when I was a five-year-old) wasn’t a simple matter of turning on the taps and singing in the shower. In the first place, we did not have a hot water on tap (no geyser until I was nine). Strike that, there was no running water either. So every morning, dad and Uncle Chris would have to fill two massive metal drums with water, one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom, when the municipality turned on the water in our area at the designated time. And this water had to last for the next 24 hours...

There were ten of us living under one roof (a large roof, nonetheless) at Anthony’s Cottage, 8 D’Monte Street, Bandra. Ten people sharing one toilet. Ten people sharing one bathroom. So when you wanted to have a s!*t, a shave or a shower, you stuck to your time-slot, thank you very much!

We used to have “bucket baths”. I’ll try to explain. When it was your bath-time, your parents would first have to heat up a handi (vessel) of water on the kitchen stove. Once the lid started rattling, you knew the water had reached boiling point. It was then taken into the bathroom and poured into a big brass bucket in a puff of steam. Cold water was added until you arrived at a suitable temperature. Too little and you would scald yourself; too much and the water would be unsatisfyingly tepid.

After pouring a few mugs of water, you reached for the soap. Cinthol lime fresh, Lifebouy or Hammam. Foreign bars of soap like the creamy Camay or the translucent Pears were treated like bars of gold.

And if you had to wash your hair, you’d better have accounted for it and rationed your bathwater accordingly. A squirt of Tata shampoo rubbed into your scalp worked up a frothy lather. But the bubble would burst when the person next in line would pound on the bathroom door demanding, “Have you finiiiiiished yet??” In one fluid motion, you would overturn the last four inches of remaining water over your head - swoosh! And wash away your sins...

Wrapping your towel around yourself, you’d race to your room where mum would be waiting to check if you had cleaned behind your ears. Oh well, there was always tomorrow...

Do you have any special bath-time routine for your kids? Shower vs. bath – what’s your preference?


  1. You never washed behind your ears !!!!

  2. It's Junior Masterchef at our house, or bathing dolls, dinosaurs battling - everything but actually washing!


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