Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The Curious Case of Hanging Laundry

I am extremely perturbed today. I have learnt from various sources that it’s against gentle manners to dry your laundry out on balconies, your balconies of your houses, out here in Brussels. I also learn that this is true for many countries around the world, but about those mennu kee. I’m not looking for comfort in numbers here. I am, right now, looking at the sun shining on my balcony, and with a gentle wind calling out to the washed laundry piled in the bucket near my feet, waiting to be freed.

Yes, freed. I’m sure wet clothes have feelings too. That they like to hang freely after what they go through in the washing machines. To wave their arms and legs and hems and holes as they dry in the wind and sunshine. And what about their daily dose of Vitamin D? No, this isn’t my angry state of mind muttering untruths to me. This is the absolute truth. It pinches as hard as the hardest clothes-clip the very moment you have to push your clothes rack into your drawing room, and start hanging your soaking laundry there, hoping this summer of 09 will last forever.    

For a city which barely manages to get enough sun in a year to make rai ka achaar, I find this tradition absolutely unbelievable. Or maybe, they just don't know what they're missing!
We who have been line-drying our clothes in India since the planet of the apes know what it’s like. The wafer-crispiness of clothes dried in the warm embrace of sunshine is orgasmic to hold. The towels become prickly happy, the separated socks feel loved, the bermudas reach their sandy beach of dreams and even the underwear, for once, feels wanted in public gaze, with nothing to hide!

Why, our clothes proudly unfurling their insides outside is as much a part of our core identity as a flag is made out to be. That is why I say to whomsoever it may concern, that this foreign rule of drying clothes inside the houses is nothing but an affront to my patriotic spirit, my nationalism, my national song, dance, drama and costumes.

Costume makes me wonder. Consider the salwar of the salwar-suit fame. It has many, some even secret, parts which need proper wind and sun to dry. The amount of cloth which goes into making just one of those could cover a whole war bunker against attack. Something so valorous about it, in keeping with the sex which wears it. See how ‘nada’, the string, or ‘bookrum’, said in the right tone, can veritably be war cries. Rebel! Nada! Charge! Bookrum! How is it then expected to humbly hang on a clothes rack, in a forgotten corner of the house, waiting to dry without bellowing with invasive might in foreign winds? It’s just mean.

A man’s most prized all-purpose possession, again nothing less than a steel armour, the baniyan, is also to be met with the same fate. No matter that the vest has been with the man since his mother darned the fifth hole that it got with age, as it went from white to less white to yellow in its first three washes. It is forced to swallow its ‘VIP’ tag, forget that it was once a ‘Boss’ and hang alongside other wet bits of a man’s inner world. Sadly, the new-born sixth hole teeming with curiosity to have a peek at the world around is to suppress its desire and get denied its basic education. Heart-breaking! Here they call the vest ‘gilet’, and assuming the ‘t’ is silent, because just anything in French can be silent anytime, it’s sad they don’t see the message the vests are screaming through their names. ‘Geeley’, we are wet! Dry us outside! Learning Hindi needs to be made compulsory here, for equality and fraternity sake!

Talking about equality... nothing acts as a bigger leveler than one, long, sturdy clothes-line. Like a traffic red light in New Delhi, where Maruti 800 meets a Jaguar without reservation, the clothes-line quietly works on a similar principle of erasing class boundaries. On your line, be it a rusty wire or a plastic rope, the Zaras and the Rupas hang shoulder to shoulder, sans prejudices and biases, with a message of gender-equality subtly thrown in. So here will be your precious Benetton pair of socks bought for the price of your kidney and next to it you’ll see your Lee jeans, custom-made in two hours at Mohan-Singh Place, CP, choice of tag included! And you know as well as I do how now, more than ever, we need to stand visibly together against any kind of oppressive regime.

Like this anti clothes-line rule, for instance!

For now, I have hung my washed laundry on a rack and placed it in the warmest part of the house, inches away from the balcony. Like a ‘nearest to heaven but farthest from god’ approach. But the nationalist in me is itching to twist and tease some gentle-manners, and hang one, just one, piece of my clothing on the railing outside. Like my banner of protest; of rejection of some things foreign. That will be my war-cry against this mind-boggling rule.

That will be my Nada!!

From 'Aliens Love Underpants'


  1. Delightful! The humour is Very Wodehouse. Loved this post

    1. Wow! Completely flattered with the huge compliment.
      Muah! Thank you!

  2. So good to read a post in ur signature style after so long. I went Awwww reading "clothes have feelings" coz I give the same justification when i pull out an old dress to save it from neglect. For now, I am sure ur clothes feel as homesick as u in videsh!

    1. Not just feelings. Health and good health too. They NEED Vitamin D! :D
      We're okay for now on the homesickness front. I guess once our home is ready here to the point we want it ready, we will start thinking of what we left behind. But for now, it's battling laundry rules, I say!
      Thanks for reading, Shaivi!

  3. Sun-dried, warm and witty. I say go ahead and hang that green and orange bedsheet in your balcony on 15th Aug.

    1. Ha ha ha! That is a good idea, Alka! :D
      I might just drape it for the 15th Aug celebrations, you know. ;);)
      Thanks a bunch for reading!

  4. A delightful read. I simply cannot resist hanging out my clothes on a sunny day.

    1. Ditto! And then I too hang around the hanging laundry, soaking up the sun and turning the clothes over so they get properly sunned too! :D
      Many thanks for stopping by, Bhagyashree!

  5. After a long time, Sakshi you have written your kind of blog...enjoyed it thoroughly.. Clothes have been my fav subject..jaha Dekho wohi se bulate hai sambhalo mujhe types.;) but wet and now wet clothes too.. Hehe:)the hottest muse for a writer

  6. Wah! What a wonderful write up!

  7. Simply brilliant! Totally enjoyed reading this! Your suffering turns the heart. Sending you warm winds to crisp up thy clothing!

  8. I miss sun-dried clothes too, but with the unpredictability of rain in Brussels, there's no way to put them on the balcony and keep checking every few minutes. I do sneak in the wet towels on the balcony on a chair though :P

  9. It seems criminal to waste good sunshine! And of course clothes have feelings. Lovely post, Sakshi.

  10. Thanks for sharing this blog, i loved to read this post, keep sharing in future also.

  11. Hahaa..... nice read... brings a smile..... may you have Sunny days ahead... greetinfs from Winsant Online Shopping Website

  12. Sakshi, you need to let those gilets free! And while you be the Brussels ki Lux-mi bai with your warcry Nada!, sing unto them 'gilet zara, gilet zara, kehta hai dil, gilet zara'. The 't' is silent of course!

    Blasphemous Aesthete

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