The bucket bath….millions do it, so can you!



1 ten litre plastic bucket at 225 INR (or 300 depending on whether you or your Indian friend buys it)
1 plastic jug at 50 INR (or 100 depending on whether you or your Indian friend buys it)
1 short-legged plastic stool at 300 INR (or 350 INR depending….)
1 electric immersion rod (a water heating device with a coiled metal end and a cord like an electric iron (think hair curling device for Frankenstein’s monster’s girlfriend).
Cost should be around 450 INR. TIP: Haggle over the bucket NOT over the rod. Check for the ISI (Indian Standards Institute) mark which indicates that it is slightly less dangerous than the others. For example, you could try the WONDER COOL brand (don’t let the name throw you) which has the reassuring ‘special feature’ of ACCURATE ELEMENT CENTRIRCATION BY THE PROCEDURE OF LATEST TOCOLOGY.


1. Fill the bucket to approximately 3 inches below the rim
2. Hang the immersion rod in the bucket from the lip near the coil.
3. If you hang the rod on the edge of the bucket, forget steps 4 to 20 since your bucket will have melted when you got distracted on gchat. Hang it on a stick placed across the top instead.
3. Realize you don’t have a stick, so go outside to look for one and then have the brainwave to use a metal hangar.
4. Spend a few minutes recovering from the shock you received after putting the immersion rod on the metal hangar and wish you’d paid more attention in physics class. Go look for a stick again.
5. Turn on the immersion rod at the wall. NOTE: Don’t turn it on before you put it in the water (or do and then immediately regret it).
6. Wait 15 to 20 minutes which is the time everyone tells you it takes to heat the water in a 10 litre bucket. NOTE: Do not check the temperature of the water unless the immersion rod is switched off (or do and regret it even more).
7. Discover after 20 minutes that you should have asked the shopkeeper to test that the immersion rod was working because the water is still stone cold OR discover that you didn’t fill the water to a high enough level and the coil has burned out OR discover that the rod’s 20 amp plug draws more power than the 13 amp socket can support and has burned out/flipped the fuse/caught on fire OR discover that because you used a metal bucket you are now dead OR go to number 8.
8. Turn off the immersion rod by switching off the power at the wall. NOTE: There is no automatic shut off on an immersion rod.
9. Take out the immersion rod, and spend a few moments in quiet terror while you wonder what to do with it, then hang it on a hook.
10. If you are lucky enough to have an electrical socket in your bathroom, continue to step 11 – otherwise, lug the bucket into the bathroom being careful not to spill any/scald your hands/knock yourself unconscious after slipping on the tile.
11. Undress and position yourself on the plastic stool while trying to retain a modicum of dignity.
12. Find out too late (naked on your little stool) that only the top 4 inches of the water is hot and the rest is lukewarm to actually cold.
13. Consider and then dismiss the idea of getting dressed and trying to reheat it, instead seek inspiration from WWII evacuation stories and survival adventure books.
14. Using the plastic jug, rapidly pour water over your shivering body with one hand (inspirational image: bailing a sinking lifeboat)
15. With the other hand, either run the soap over yourself that you wet in the bucket occasionally steadying yourself when your bottom begins to slide around on the plastic stool.
16. Realize that the bucket water is now all soapy and there’s not enough left of it to wash your hair.
17. Throw the plastic jug against the wall with expletive of your choice.
18,  Lift up the bucket and rinse yourself off with the last of the tepid soapy water.
19. Wipe the rest of the dirt and soap off your body with a towel.
20. Get dressed.

That’s all there is to it!

About subincontinentia

writer and eternal optimist
This entry was posted in Moving on...., Rose Apple Island and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The bucket bath….millions do it, so can you!

  1. Well, here’s my advice…….. Buy a second bucket…….. keep it half full of cold water …….. let the water in your first bucket heat up till you see vapours form at the surface ( may take upto 40 mins ) …….. Now you should have a bucket of cold water and a bucket of boiling hot water……… mix it to your desired temperature by shuffling water from one bucket to the other till you have the desired temperature in both ( careful not to burn yourself ) you might feel like a mad scientist at this stage ,,,,,,,, So now you have a bucket half full that you can wet your soap in and a full bucket to wash yourself down with! Happy Bathing !!! 😛

    P.S.- learnt this living in a hostel where they repair the hot water geysers ( A device that supplies piped hot water too the taps and shower-heads, and comes with a thermostat and auto cut off………..don’t you wish you had one ) only in January so that I had to come up with this plan or risk freezing with a cold water bath every morning ! In fact I now prefer the latter as it saves me having to get up early to heat the water…..Ah! the desperation of a Med School student for sleep !!!

  2. Thanks for the tip, Sunam. Makes sense. Yes, I’ve had geysers before, but in my apartment in Delhi it wasn’t supplied and I didn’t want to buy one for my landlord 🙂

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