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23 November 2011 / leggypeggy

Betcha can’t do this—at least not for long

Two cleaners taking a break at the railway station in Jakarta.

Across Asia, especially southeast Asia, people sit on their haunches with their feet flat on the ground. It’s the norm, and they manage it with complete ease and aplomb. Time for a smoke—down on the haunches. Ready for a chat—down on the haunches. Having a snack—down on the haunches. It really is a convenient way to ‘sit’ when chairs are scarce and the ground might be wet, rocky or buggy.

This skill is common to men, women and children. All the people who worked in our house when we lived in Burma in the 1980s could do it.

I can easily do it—for about three minutes, which is most useful in the land of squat toilets. Which prompts me to reiterate that you can only do an overland if your knees work. Oh wait, I take that back. Our driver in Africa once had a 73-year-old passenger who brought along her own toilet seat with legs.

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