What the heck is this? Never seen it before? This is a state-of-the-art washing rock. It has running water and everything. You get your bucket of soapy water, complete with Tide (for bucket-wash), another bucket for rinsing, a hose, this rock and there you are. We saw this washing-rock behind the SAP guest house, one of the first homes built here in Palm Meadows. It is about 8 years old, one of the oldest in the development. I haven’t seen another washer like this, but I haven’t been behind all the houses either. Our place doesn’t have a WR, but did have, until recently, a pile of granite slabs you could use for the same purpose.
One of the first things we bought besides a refrigerator, was a washer and dryer. However, when Lakshmi first started to work for us, I found her in the back with a bucket of water, slamming cleaning rags against the rock pile, then scrubbing them. “Oh, Lakshmi” I said “don’t do that! It’s too much work. Let’s put them in the machine!”
“No, Madame. Not clean. This is the right way.” So, I just left her to it and put the rags in the machine after she’d left. The next day I showed her the rags. That was the LAST TIME we had any rock action chez nous. I turned the rock pile into some garden paths that I will show you in another article. Later on, I showed her how to use the washer. It is a little difficult because the knobs are in English and so are the instructions. I appreciate the problem because my last washer had all the knobs and instructions in German!
India is a fabric country; you have no problem finding quality laundries and dry cleaners here. The very best thing, I think, is the Dhobi Wallah (ironing man). The dhobi wallah comes to your place and picks up your ironing. I mean it. He is my favorite guy. Here he is: Shri Ram.
Everyone selects an old sheet or large cloth to put clean things in. Generally, he takes flat items and simple clothing. The nice shirts and difficult dresses we send to the laundry or iron at home.
Here’s the last batch he did for us: a set of king sheets, four pillow cases, three elastic waist pants, two blouses and some napkins. Cost Rs 50 ($1.17)
Why should we iron at home?!
Now, how does Shri Ram get all this ironing done? The electricity is unreliable and his business depends on having fresh-ironed clothes for everyone.
He uses one of these! This is an old home-size one I bought to use as a display piece, but I have seen the dhobi’s at work. The irons they have are at least twice this big. They wrap the handle in several layers of old cloth to keep the heat from burning them.
See the little grate in the open iron? This is where you put your hot charcoal–not that wimpy stuff you cook with; real hard-wood charcoal. These irons are not light either. The people iron outside. I saw a dhobi shop in Dehli where a woman was ironing under the trees, a small fire burning in an iron vessel, a couple of children nearby and fresh irons at the ready. She had a big ironing table, not a tapered board. Really fun to see. When I get my ironing back, it smells of fresh air and wood smoke.
The dhobi wallahs will also wash your clothes for you. My friend Meera advises against it. “You can’t be sure they use clean water” she says. Never-the-less, it’s great to see the drying yards.
This drying yard is right downtown in the shopping area. I go past it every week. It is really a lot bigger than what you can see here. It’s hard to get a picture because the large and busy street doesn’t allow you to get closer on foot or slow down in the car.