People walk past a mobile toilet on a bus at a public park in Pune. AFP
So she was pleasantly surprised to find a pink women-only "washroom-on-wheels" in a public park in western India — one of several facilities dotting the city of Pune, where a pair of entrepreneurs have transformed run-down buses into hop-on toilets.
"I came to the park and wanted to visit the bathroom urgently. These toilets are very comfortable and felt safe," 18-year-old Dongare said.
For a relatively affordable five-rupee-fee (seven US cents), any woman can board the toilet to use the facilities, breastfeed babies or purchase sanitary napkins and diapers.
Launched in 2016 by entrepreneurs Ulka Sadalkar and Rajeev Kher, the "Ti Toilet" project — "ti" means "her" in the local Marathi language — has 12 mobile washrooms, on average used by more 200 women daily. The buses are powered by solar panels mounted on top of the vehicle.
Sadalkar said the pair, who run a portable sanitation business, came up with the idea as part of a series of projects focused on improving hygiene in the city.
"We believe women deserve access to clean and safe washrooms and it is their basic right," she told AFP, adding that the duo wanted to open 1,000 toilets across India in the next five years.
"We focused a lot on aesthetics in refurbishing these buses and provided clean toilets, television sets, temperature monitors with an attendant in tow."
An attendant cleans the interior of a mobile toilet on a bus in Pune. AFP
Manisha Adhav, 40, who operates one of the toilets, told AFP she felt "proud working here as we are doing something for women."
"Women bless me ... as they come here from far away areas as well because there aren't enough public washrooms around."
Even as India went on a building spree constructing millions of toilets as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flagship "Clean India" programme, experts said the lack of water or electricity meant many remain unused.
State governments have struggled to maintain public toilets, which are often poorly lit, unmanned, and reek of urine and faeces.
An attendant takes stock of supplies inside a mobile toilet on a bus in Pune. AFP
These too are mostly used by men, with women — fearing for their safety — going long hours without using such facilities.
Modi in October declared India free of open defecation and said 600 million people had been provided with access to toilets.
But experts questioned the claims and said sanitation and safety remain intertwined for millions of Indian women.
Finding "clean and safe washrooms in public spaces is not easy during emergencies. We are trying to change that," Adhav said.
A Belgian man has sat on a toilet for nearly five days this week in his bid for longest toilet break record.
Burglars have stolen a fully-functional 18-carat gold toilet from Britain's Blenheim Palace, where it had been installed as an art exhibit, police said on Saturday.
"The building that is located in the premises of the community health centre, was painted saffron and shaped like a temple. People believed it to be a temple and no one bothered to clarify. It was only recently that an official told us that it was actually a toilet," said Rakesh Chandel, a resident.
However, many who hunt with the large bird of prey still pass on their skills to their sons and daughters.
The team of dog trainers are working in their own time and report a 95 per cent success rate in detection of the virus in samples of human scent.
The commercial fishery for herring has suffered in recent years due to new restrictions, but those same rules could benefit puffins.
India is one of the world's most dangerous places for women, with a rape occurring every 15 minutes, according to government data. Uttar Pradesh, where Lucknow is located, is the least safe state, with the highest number of reported crimes against women in 2019.