It took moving to Africa for me to realize the significance of the bucket and mug that resided permanently in my parent’s bathroom. I never thought too much about it growing up and wrote off bathing with a bucket in the bathtub as one of the many quirks that come with the Bengali culture (like putting rugs on top of carpet, which is hella weird now that I think about it).
This all changed today.
I don’t know if it was the hot Ugandan sun or the fact that I missed tea break and was starving as a result, but it wasn’t until the end of the “Bathing in Uganda” session that I realized the reason why the lesson seemed so familiar was because bucket bathing was something I was already taught growing up (shout out to the parental unit!). Even though we had running water and a bathroom with a shower in our home in New York, I remember my mother filling a bucket with water and using a mug to pour the water on my 6 year old self sitting in the bathtub.
Following the bathing session was a lesson on hand washing your clothes, another task I was acquainted with. So while most people around me were doing these things for the first time, I was sitting there like no big deal.
It’s very interesting to make these connections in such a foreign place. Growing up, I didn’t always appreciate my native culture; I was in college when I finally started embracing my brown-ness, if you will. (It also wasn’t until college that I realized how much the color of my skin changed the way people perceived me, but that’s a story for another blog post). This experience was also very reassuring. It’s nice to know that although there is a long list of obstacles that I may have to overcome while living in Uganda, bucket bathing will not be one of them.