Wednesday, August 04, 2004

From Memshab to Mossie: Painfully drawnout thoughts on the duality of my life

My washing machine has been busted for over a week and I'm knee deep in dirty clothes. My problems have been compounded by the problem that Zaman (my 19 year old son) has finally emptied out all his suitcases from his recent travels: 10 days in London ( giant suitcase), 6 days in Dubai (carry on bag), 7 days of mountain trekking (back pack) and 3 days in Lahore. (gym bag) What brought this sudden urge for clean clothes you ask... sheer necessity. He finally ran out of clean clothes.

Yesterday I gave up hoping for a quick return of the machine and decided it was time to do the laundry by hand!!! ( Exclamation marks should always come in groups of three for emphasis.)

I bravely waded into Zaman's room to tackle the mountain of dirty clothes beside his bed. I dragged the clothes into the nearest bathroom and sorted them into my favorite groups: bleach, light, darks: and put them into three huge buckets of hot water and laundry soap (bleach optional). The were two other piles, one for sending out for "professional" laundry (all Khakis and jeans) and clothes that were never worn but ended up on the floor, I replaced into drawers. (Zaman has his tricks, I have mine.)

Then I waited, I let them set while they cooled enough to handle. Wishing I could stir the clothes to distribute the soap, I called my hubby and asked him to buy me, "One of those wooden handle things they use to smash haleem." He didn't know what the heck I was talking about. I assured him I had seen them at every plastic goods store. He called back later saying that what I was asking for was a plunger. My reply was, "I don't know what they use them for, I need something I can stir this hot laundry with and not burn my hands." (The next day we were shopping at AabPara market together and I showed him what I wanted, it turns out it was a lassi mixer. Well, I got one and it makes a great laundry stirrer too.)

Now, here's where good old fashioned American ingenuity comes into play. Having lived in Pakistan before I wisely brought along a washboard when we relocated 4 years ago. You see, there are no commercial Laundromats so when my washing machine breaks, it's hand washing for me. So having learned the hard way, I prepare for the worst of all possibilities by bringing a washboard with me.

I could use the other methods of laundry available here:
1. dobins (washermen- they break buttons, burn holes in your favorite clothes, and lose thing)
2. mossies (cleaning ladies- I have a part-time cleaning lady. She comes daily, but since she doesn't speak English and I don't speak Urdu, she's on autopilot. She dusts, sweeps, mops and washes the dishes, all without any direction from me.) She is a very sweet lady, but I find it annoying to have her around so I try to keep her jobs routine and our contact minimal.

This is the price I pay for my stubborn American independence. At least my clothes aren't lost, ruined, shrunk, burned, bleached, dyed purple, or substituted with someone else's clothes. I have learned all these painful lessons the hard way. We have also experienced broken buttons and zippers, laundry marks written in permanent ink on the front of clothes! My husband likes to have his clothes "professionally cleaned" (I say "professionally tortured") and the cleaner had his clothes mixed up with someone else's of nearly the same size and color. Unfortunately, that other person was about 4 inches shorter and several pounds heaver then my husband and the clothes didn't fit and his own were never found.

Sorry, I've gotten off track. Well, I rubbed and scrubbed my little heart out all day yesterday and I prepared to repeat the process again today. I was dressed in my grungy clothes, when my hubby asked me to go run errands to the bank, travel agent and shopping. I had to quickly change to my Memshab get up, and drive around town like a lady of leisure. Upon my return home, the mossie clothes were redoned and I prepare to spend several hours scrubbing laundry again. Therefore the title of this blog: Memshab to Mossie. People assume I'm a Memshab with a houseful of domestic servants at my beck and call, but I'm really something of a hybrid Memshab-Mossie mix.

I'm off to hang clothes over the back wall with rocks to weigh them down. All very strange to me, but it works, mate.

Family news: Nephew Azeem is coming in from Karachi. He's the wildest child of the bunch. What late-night entertainment and mischief the boys find while he's in town, I can only guess!!!
Tomorrow, I'll bake brownies in honor of his arrival... and do ironing. Lots and lots of ironing.

Today, I submitted an email to the Japanese school to find a Japanese teacher for Oleg who will exchange English instruction for Japanese. Pretty smart, huh?


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