My husband (in the photo at his childhood home in India) never gave any thought to this omnipresent device until now, until our living in the States. In India, even to this day, my husband’s mother, who uses daily all the modern appliances you can imagine, doesn’t even need a washer. There are too many nice people in need, who make a little money by washing clothes. No, it’s not that my parents in law would be some the richest people in India, but every middle class family can afford to pay somebody to do the laundry, somebody else for the ironing, another person for cleaning and somebody else for doing dishes and sometimes even cooking. Interestingly enough, the machines didn’t manage to replace people over there and this offers everybody so much – the environment is a bit safer, people get human interaction on daily washing basis, some families manage to survive on this simple line of work, and all are happy. In India there are nice people who do laundry and the nicest weather who does the drying. One can see the clotheslines hanging all over apartments, balconies, terraces. All day, all year long.
When I lived in Romania, just like my mother and my grandmother before her, I didn’t have a dishwasher or a clothes dryer. What else didn’t I have? It’s not a question of poverty or backwardness of my country. After all, I had a microwave and a toaster – both quite useless too. Well, let’s not speak so harshly about the toaster. I loved that thing. Oh, I also had a coffee maker, but was not using it as coffee tastes much better when boiled.
After moving to US, I still refused to use the dishwasher because I found it to break my kitchen routine in an unwanted way. I kept washing dishes quickly, as they came up in the sink. not waiting for them to pile up. But the dryer, well, that I embraced whole-heartedly. Wow! What a difference. Just take the clothes from the washer, put them in another machine and take them out dry. If it would have only ironed them too! But still, no need to break your neck and back at the clothesline, hanging each item one by one. In time though, I started hating the thing. My clothes were either too dry and wrinkly, or not dry enough. And the time! More than an hour the machine has to work continuously to dry a few clothes. As we were living in an apartment complex, the waste was quite obvious when I had to pay $1.50 for each dryer load. No, it was not worth it, but the management wouldn’t let us hang dry our clothes on the balconies, for obvious esthetic reasons. Oh, what a field day we had, my like-minded friends and I, when the drier was out of order. All our clothes were proudly exhibited on the balconies, for the sun to see (and everyone else passing by).
Now, we moved into this beautiful little house and I worry even more about our waste. I started using the dishwasher because I think I waste too much energy and water when I wash dishes by hand. But the drier… well, now I can stop using that. I have a clothesline on the balcony. I thought about this for a long time and decided that I wouldn’t be very comfortable taking my clothes outside (because I am kind of lazy too) but thank God we have this lovely balcony that we don’t use for anything else, which is conveniently situated out of the bedroom, and such really close to the closets where the clothes are anyway supposed to go. I think is genius. As a side note, I also have clotheslines put up in the basement, where the washer is, just for the occasional rainy day and 6 months of New England winter.
My first load of sun dried laundry is awaiting. Joy.