Yes, not too long ago you needed to be desperate to want to use a public toilet in India. You needed to desensitise your nasal tracts and be able to hold your breath to be able to use on of the 'Sulabh Sauchalyas' that dotted Delhi. At some point in time I remember knowing all of them in Connaught Place without visiting them..by the stench that warned you about what lay ahead. There was also a habit developed through childhood by parents to go to the loo before stepping out of the house! A habit that does nothing for you if you are in a traffic jam or in an area that has no restaurants.
And it gets worse if you move to Bombay which works on Maths -> Space = Money. Toilets make none..hence no toilets!!I remember walking through Kalba Devi and also Mohammed Ali Road, in desperation and feeling bad for the tourists who invariably eat road side stuff and then have a tough time!
Well things have changed...a LOT in Delhi. There is a whole spate of manned Public Toilets in Delhi called Mokleen. You can expect sparkling clean interiors, brightly lit and comfortably big. You can also expect clean running water, hand wash, drier as well as toilet paper! Also present is an attendant to charge you Rs 1 or Rs 2 for usage of the facility. There are ceiling fans to keep you cool. Huge skylights to keep the air fresh and well painted exteriors that stop people from using the outside of the building as a loo. The attendants guide you to the Men's or the Ladies as there are no King or Queen tiles for indication. They also give you a big smile if they see you twice in the same day!
The toilets are maintained by Private companies and are well run. I was very impressed by them. No I dont want to sound like a patronising NRI but I do want to sound like one proud Indian, happy to see progress! Its good, its great!
This is what the Hindu had to say about Mokleen's facility.
'The story of the woman who, passing a public toilet complex at night, with all its bright lights and stir of visitors, thought it was a house of worship and directed her children to bow their heads in reverence, seems symbolic. Cleanliness is after all, next to Godliness.'