Do you remember the candies that you shared with cousins during a summer vacation, the ice lollies called golas on the streets with your college beau, or a plate of crispy pakoras on a rainy evening with the entire family? If you can share these and create memories, why not share a bucket of laundry with members of opposite sex in your family.
Sunkissed washing machine on a summer morning
Not getting into the nitty gritties of laundry duties in India (like I did in a previous article on #ShareTheLoad ) – I’d suggest, and may be coax you with my stories to jump into the bandwagon. The very basic and important household chore of laundry is often seen lonesome waiting upon women of the house. It was pretty common among my peers to heap trunkload of unwashed clothes all through their semester and carry them back home to be washed. A humongous task of washing was gifted to the mothers, sisters and domestic helps during the college kid’s semester break. Times are a’changing now, with washing machines costing cheaper than decades ago and invading the middle class household. High school kids and freshmen are just a button and few clicks away from washing their soiled jerseys and fancy jeans. What about the other chores though – drying, folding and stacking the clothes? The most arduous part of laundry.
Generically, an atomic family of a couple like us need to perform laundry twice a week with mini washes (without the machine) in between. Since Pune is facing a drought this summer, we’ve decided to keep the laundry minimal and accumulate them to maximum twice a week. Hence the #LaundryGoesOddEven becomes easier to implement with the better half (M) going gung ho on Sunday – first day of the week, and me choosing the fourth day (Wednesday). This has actually been working since the advent of summer this year as water became scarce and came in batches of hours each day. We chose Sunday and Wednesday mornings for laundry as they suit our leisures perfectly well. M jumps about as a hyperactive school kid in glee of just operating the gadget, laundry seems an excuse for him to play with the washing machine. Since he leaves early morning on working days, Wednesday works fine for me to wrap up the midweek laundry. We have been able to fine tune the chore to almost mechanical precision, and try not to miss our preferred days of the work. It’s a seamless process, each doing their own on time and saving rest of the day for important work like writing and blogging!
I’ve realized over the years that household chores are best done when shared. Since this fact has been validated by my father throughout, it was obviously expected that my husband would do similar things too. The fact that M (that’s my better half) has been away from home since he was 18 for academics and later job, has made things easier for me too. As I’d written in my earlier post, he has been doing his own laundry much before I shed the dependency on my mother and started doing mine.
Funny enough, he cooks better than me too. #ShareTheLoad seems to be very well applicable in our household of just over 5 years. While we were contemplating marriage, we made a list of things both of us liked doing around the house.
Cleaning utensils – Me (I don’t like the way M does it, not enough grit there, he hates it actually)
Dusting and Floor mops – Him (I don’t like the dusting part, I’m allergic and bored to death)
Cooking – Me (Weekdays), Him (Weekends). Since he likes to experiment with all kinds of exotic stuff like different meats, those are reserved for the weekends and special occasions.
Laundry – Me (I am probably one of the rare women who likes to do laundry. The aroma of a good quality detergent on squeaky clean clothes is something that freshens me up).
In India, yes it was until a few years ago. Honestly, when I was a kid, I never bothered doing my own laundry as I was totally dependent on Ma for it. She indulged me probably considering that academics took a toll on me and I needed more time for games and books. Now when I’ve been living away from home for about nine years, I realize the monstrosity of laundry. Baba has been doing his mini laundry himself for years now. The same holds true for my father-in-law. What I mean by mini laundry is washing their inner wear daily while bathing. They would put the dirty clothes in the laundry bag otherwise, not bothering the lady of the house with trifles like kerchiefs and socks.
For everyone else I know, including my cousins and friends – they believed that mom would do the laundry, or the domestic help, and more recently the washing machine (operated by mom again). Sad but true, Ariel’s survey with AC Nielsen is a glaring fact that 76% of the men still feel that laundry is a woman’s job. From my knowledge and experiences spanning over three decades, I won’t blame only the men for this blasphemy. Our Indian moms and grandmas pamper their men to infinity. I’ve heard so many say “Babu’r toh porashuno achhe, bari’r chhele boshe kapor kachbe keno, amra toh achhi. (Why should Babu do any laundry when we’re there for him, he needs to study instead). The range of this ‘Babu’ spans anywhere for men aged 10-50 years.