Listening to: Jesse’s Girl – Rick Springfield
Washing clothes is a little different for me in India. For the first time ever, the G family actually owns its own washing machine, rather than just using one from a landlord or funding a laundry mat. The machine is an LG and I would marry it if only it would wash dishes too. That’s right people, mechanical polygamy.
I have finally gotten the idea of doing smaller loads every day or two rather than doing a mountain every 2 weeks. Go ahead mom, I’ll wait while you gloat and say I told you so! It takes me a while for common sense suggestions to sink in. The inertias, I am attached to it. Anyhow, we use our washing machine on a very regular basis.
However, some of my clothes are beyond wimpy and require coddling. My salwar Kameeze, my tunics from Fab India (because I really want them to last for a while) and my kids Indian clothes all have to be washed by hand. I know I have the tendency to Martha Stewart bomb the house when I am having company, but let me tell you people, I am not cut out for life without machines. If I were a pioneer woman, my Dutch/Viking genes would probably save me from cholera, but would do nothing to prevent me from dying of exposure when I got too lazy to hand wash my clothes for the 10 bazillionth time.
This morning, I decided the growing mountain of disgruntled, dirty clothing just couldn’t wait to be washed. My housekeeper offered to do this for me once (because girl is hustling and always looking for more ways to earn the rupees), but she seems to have a serious delusion about doing more work than she actually has time for. Which is totally not a big deal. This does however make me do the laundry early in the morning before she comes to our house; otherwise she bothers me to do it. Something about me doing any work triggers some guilt response from her.
So I busted out my gaucho pants (because there are few things on earth I hate more than having wet jean hems!!) and trusty plastic buckets, headed to the shower and got to work. One capful of handwash detergent to one bucket of water. Insert one piece of clothing at a time (because these clothes do not like soaking) and wet thoroughly. Crouch down and scrub away. The best way I’ve found is to just rub the cloth against itself. Very bad for the back and knees to crouch the whole time, but it beats bending over and standing up 80 times. Rinse under the tap, which has by now switched randomly from cold water (the non-fabric-bleedy type) to warm water, which does turn the fabric all bleedy.
I haven’t quite got a handle on how the water in India works. During the winter, the water is ice cold and stays that way unless you heat up the geezer for an ungodly amount of time, and then returns to cold after you have used up the 10 available minutes of nice hot water. During the summer, if you only turn on the cold tap, the water will come out actually cold for 1 bucket of water. After which, it will turn a warm-ish temp for no reason. We often don’t use the geezer during the summer, because if the water is going to come out decently warm, why spend the money on heating the water anyways? Besides, who wants a hot shower when it’s hot and sweaty outside?? Not this Dutch girl. I like me some cold showers in the summer.
Anyhow, after thorough rinsing in which you worry that you will have a non-colored shirt when you’re done, throw into another empty bucket. When you have finished all the clothes, or filled the bucket, walk very, very slowly and carefully (think 80 year old type walking) across the stone tile floor so you don’t fall and break multiple bones because your feet are still wet and snails couldn’t even make this more slippery. Seriously, it’s dangerous.
Hang your clothes on very small, thin strings stretched out across your porch, cursing about why your husband won’t just buy you a clothes rack already. Re-tie 3 of the strings that decide they just aren’t feeling like supporting clothes today. Fuss that the strings are so stretched out your clothes rest against the porch that is covered in dust and pigeon detritus, in spite of your best efforts to clean it every day and chase those little bastards off. Worry that it will be windy again today and that you will have to chase your clothes all over the compound after they blow off of your 7th floor porch. End up cursing the monsoon rains and hail that soak your clothes when they were 90% dry. Swear that you will never again hand wash the clothes.
There you are people, that is how laundry day is at our house. I’m having some serious white picket fence fantasies about clothes lines and washing machines in the US right now.