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FRESH OFF THE PLANE: Washroom, bathroom, same difference

I grew up in India and at home we called the room where we bathed a bathroom. That the bathroom also generally, but not always, also had the toilet, didn’t change things.

At school, the nuns taught us to call it a toilet. You asked for permission to go to the toilet, not the bathroom. Of course, at school it was only a toilet, you weren’t bathing there! No room for confusion there.

The confusion which arose when we moved to Canada in the early 80s. While looking for a house, our real estate agent kept talking about how many rooms a home had, and how many washrooms.

“The house we are going to see now has three bedrooms and two four-piece washrooms,” he said.

I figured one washed in a washroom, but couldn’t one do that in a bathroom? And why was there no mention of a bathroom? Or a toilet? And what on earth were the four pieces?

A story I’d read long ago about a Canadian family using an outhouse came rushing back to mind.

It couldn’t possibly apply in this day and age, I told myself, but I agonized over it, too self-conscious to ask the real estate agent to explain.

I feel so silly writing this, but I still remember how, as we drove along the neat suburban street, I craned my neck to see if I could catch evidence of outhouses!

Then we walked into the home and saw the kitchen, the living room, the bedrooms and...the washrooms.

With a tub, shower, toilet and sink – the four pieces in question!
“But this has a tub and a shower...” I said out loud, without thinking.

“Yes, of course,” said the agent. “Were you looking for a washroom with just a shower stall?”

My husband was looking at me quizzically, wondering what I was going on about.

“No, this is great!” I said. “The washrooms are perfect!”
We’ve lived in that house with the two washrooms – the first we saw in Canada and fell in love with – for the past 28 years. – AMTA GHOSH

Posted: Aug 5, 2011

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