The Talking Walls Of Bhubaneswar: Much More Than A Toilet

City Lights: Lifestyle

The idea of a public toilet in India is not a great one. Dirty, unclean, stinking are just the words that come to one’s mind when public toilet is brought to discussion. Such is the visual imagery that the very mention of a public toilet sends people away from these amenities.

But just imagine if toilet is like a work of art, designed in a manner that it catches your attention first. Well! That is what Bakul Foundation has come up with – an extraordinary idea where public toilets are alluring.

BMC had invited Bakul to design public toilets so creatively that it attracts people and not send them off into open areas to relieve themselves. Bakul came up with different designs and with funny graffiti. The idea was not to make the art-work instructive and preachy with dense messages and descriptions but to keep them simple, understandable and attractive at one go. It was important to grab attention to engage people in discussions on sanitation. These designs can now been seen in the capital city.

The common marking that threads these innovative toilets is the blue line on the front that signifies the water and the sanitation. The idea was to keep the toilets hygienic and clean. Blue symbolises water sanitation while the stripes give a striking look. Another set of toilets has commodes with sunflower as the back rest.

“It’s very important to make people understand the facts about cleanliness and sanitation. There are semi-illiterates who are unaware about the hygiene. So I guess those people shall definitely learn something by seeing these wall pictures.” says Pratiksha Patnaik.

So, Bakul designed picture walls of toilets that scream: “You can’t ignore me. So, try and understand what I am saying.” The iconic line from the immortal Bollywood film Sholay “Arrey oh Sambha, kitne aadmi the” was used in such a creative manner by Sujit Mahapatra of Bakul Foundation that it forces people to engage in a suitable dialogue.

Sujit started off by sharing a painting of the scene from the film without the dialogue on the Facebook and invited people to suggest dialogues for Gabbar. “I connect with the p
Walls of public toilets in Bhubaneswar have never been so colorful and entertaining!
eople more, so I thought why not let people decide what kind of lines can be given. That is why I took help of the social media,” he says.
And finally he came up with this: “Kitne aadmi the joh khulle maine sauch kar rahe hain.” The line is accompanied with the image of Gabbar and his lieutenant Sambha in the hilly valleys. In the backdrop is a commode with the sunflower as the back rest surrounded by the garden of flowers.
Then Sujit takes us back to our childhood days when our superhero was the man from Krypton, the Superman who fought (still fights) with the powerful enemies to save the world. He came up with this innovative idea where the superhero was presented with a super pan as his symbol of fighting against the germs and virus. This wall painting on toilets with the “Kitanu Man” fighting the germs by spraying a hand wash leaves an impression on teenagers and children by teaching them a thing or two about sanitation.

Amidst the funny and entertaining wall designs to send the message of sanitation, there are serious ones too where the socio-cultural diversity is portrayed. This wall design sees women from all parts of the society queuing up at the toilet. It delivers the message with a punch. There was a time when the women and girls had to walk a long distance to find suitable open fields to attend the nature’s call. But the wall picture depicts women have equal rights even in terms of sanitation. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Hindu or a Muslim; rich or poor; women across the barriers of caste, creed, race and culture should equally use toilets and there should not be any discrimination.

Then there is this one of the soldiers sitting on toilets depicting the nation’s safety. Also another one depicts football players kicking a germ instead of a ball. The use of Armed Forces and sports is to bring in the element of connection with the people in general.

How have these wall designs by Bakul Foundation been received? “When I saw the paintings, I did not realised what was it all about but then I came out of my car and read all those messages. I could immediately connect with the ideas. I have seen people peeing on the wall. When those people see and read these, I am quite sure they will think twice before urinating in open” says Pranita, a resident of from Bhubaneswar.

With the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan of Prime Minster Narendra Modi gaining momentum, these innovative toilet designs have come as a huge boost to campaign. In a state where water borne diseases like diarrhoea claims many lives – not just in rural hinterland but also in urban areas – Bakul Foundation has hit the right chords.