The Curious Puzzle of the Toothbrush and the Bottled Water
No, I’m not turning my hand to writing mystery books Rather, this is my attempt to describe an unexpected challenge of not using tap water in India, which we’d been warned against by countless people.
Washing our hands with liquid sanitiser was no hardship – we’ve been doing it for ages with the severe drought in Cape Town. But can you imagine how tricky it is to brush your teeth with bottled water?
Obviously, it would be easy with four hands – one for the toothbrush, one for the toothpaste, one for the bottle of water and one to actually do what’s required. Sadly, like most humans, I had to make do with only two.
At the risk of over-sharing, here’s how I did it:
1 Open the bottle of water and the toothpaste.
2 Pour a small amount of water from the bottle into a glass and set aside for the moment – you’ll need it later.
3 Add toothpaste to the toothbrush and proceed to brush teeth as usual.
Up to now, you could manage with only 2 hands, but this is where it starts getting complicated…
4 With toothbrush in one hand, rinse mouth with water from the glass using your other hand. If you skipped steps 1 and 2, this is where you’d need the other two hands to open the water and pour some into a glass.
5 Then pour the remainder of the water from the glass over the toothbrush to rinse it.
It was by no means an ideal solution, and required a little juggling of various items from one hand to the other, but generally I found it worked okay.
Right up to the final day of our trip.
As I brushed my teeth on our final morning in Kolkata, I was contemplating how long it would take me to become re-accustomed to rinsing my toothbrush with tap water… and absentmindedly did just that!