When I told the visiting theatre faculty (one day on the veranda, with a cup of chai) that I was planning to wash my own clothes while in Hyderabad, they looked at me like I was out of my mind.
“Get a dhobi,” they said.
“Would that be the woman I saw yesterday rinsing out a stack of men’s dress shirts in the lake?” I retorted. “I’m going to use Woolite and my five-gallon bucket.”
So yesterday I did a big load of clothing, mostly unmentionables and such, agitating them in the bucket and then rinsing them out at the tap. They drip-dried from the clothesline strung across my room (making my room look a bit like the chawl from Guru, minus, of course, Abhishek Bachchan), and came out smelling fresh as roses.
The three pairs of blue jeans I brought with me, however, were another matter. We’ve been having monsoons off and on, and all three pairs were muddy and stinking. I didn’t know if Woolite could handle this much dirt, so I thought I would pay a visit to the dhobi after all.
But upon arrival I found a few unexpected complications. First was that this poor woman was apparently dhobi for the entire university. She had piles and piles of clothes stacked around her, and the young girl hovering nearby told me that it would take three days before there would be room for mine. Second was that the dhobi didn’t speak English and I, of course, didn’t speak Telugu, and so I was a little unsure as to whether I could accurately communicate my name and address, and fearful that I might never get my pants back at all.
So I returned my stinking jeans to my little room and filled up the five-gallon bucket.
When I was finished, the water was so brown it was almost black. But those pants were clean.
Science types, please help me: how is it that by plunging a pair of dirty jeans into a bucket of soapy water and churning them around and around for five minutes, the dirt somehow magically separates from the jeans and sticks to the water? Just curious. ^__^