Saturday, December 04, 2010

Confessions of A Saudi Girl

My name is Asmaa, I am a Saudi girl and I have a confession to make: I have been doing my own laundry for about 2 months now. My entire laundry load, abaya to socks.

That previous statement may have made me sound like a spoiled brat but I assure you that my family is only in the middle of the financial spectrum of my lovely city. My parents spent good money to get me a decent education, but I don’t carry a designer bag.

My routine has been the same since childhood: throw my dirty laundry in the hamper and come back home to find my room miraculously tidy. We’ve always had two maids at home, and we’re only 4 people.

About 6 years back I did my first laundry load, it was summer vacation and we were spending 3 months at our apartment in Cairo. Someone had to do the laundry.

It was a front loading washing machine and I used Persil liquid detergent, a light blue liquid with an ambiguous but pleasant flower scent. At the absence of a dryer I had to hang the clothes to dry, and being on the 11th floor, that meant hanging them INSIDE the balcony and not out.

Since then I’ve only hand washed woolen cardigans and lace delicates, but never a pair of jeans. Until one of the maids had to leave.

It was just another ordinary day, got back home from college, threw my scrubs and lab coat in the hamper and went for a nap, woke up to find my mom washing my scrubs. So I had her teach me how.

As it turns out, using a washing machine isn’t as complicated once u read what all those little buttons and lights say. Also, always read the label on your clothes. ALWAYS! And now, yours truly is familiar with laundry. Oh so proud of myself!

P.S. NEVER wash your favourite tie dye t-shirt with anything, really. wash it on it’s own. I am very serious.

14 comments:

  1. A bit sad how we appreciate that we know how to do this. I, on the other hand, take pride in my laundering skills. Our maids are constantly leaving us and there's just not enough time in the world to keep on teaching a new one all over again!

    Anyway, good for you!

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  2. as for me..it's ok to do the laundry by a washing machine of course..but to iron here's the big problem..i hate ironing..i wish i can hire a maid just to do the ironing thing..haha

    love this post :)

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  3. Exclamation mark: yes! teaching maids is a pain and they keep ruining clothes! and thank you :)

    Gozaz: now i'm reluctant to let them do the ironing as well! i think i'll start doing my own...

    Duha: dude, at school, i were marra a7azzin coz my family didnt have a chef! and the fact that mama would drop me off at school and not a nanny. and no, a nanny is NOT a maid, fe farg.

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  4. I wish that my wife doesn't need/want a maid/nanny ..

    and Yes, I'll do all the kitchen work willingly .. Don't mind helping with laundry, just don't make me clean the house more than once a month :P

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  5. that's what am afraid of , i wish laundries do subscription account and schedule a pick up date every week

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  6. Come on, are you serious? Washing clothes is the easiest of household tasks ...

    ironing, on the other hand ...

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  7. Haha. I learned how to do the laundry when I first got married. However, if I'm ever stuck with having to use a different washing machine than the one I own, I'm so screwed!

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  8. Great post!

    If I may, my laundry biography, in brief.

    I was raised in a family of 4, with no maids. When I was 10ish my mother was teaching full time and attending uni part-time, hence we had a cleaning lady once a week. That stopped after a couple of years. My laundry contributions were: hanging and taking in laundry from the suburban clothes line; ironing; folding; putting away; starting the washing machine with exact instructions (including suds save and return). Despite my academic and athletic achievements I was not entrusted with the complexities of loading and setting the washing machine.

    I only did real laundry (not hand washing delicates) after I moved to a university residence. I discovered the politics/wars of the laundry room: who was first, who couldn't be bothered waiting and removed someone else's clothes, who dropped whose what on the floor, who stole whose whatnot, etc.

    I preferred peace not war, so I did my laundry at midnight. I learned 2 lessons. 1) How to get all pink lingerie: wash with red t-shirt because you want to believe the red won't bleed into the whites; and do all your lingerie save what you are wearing at once, including all camisoles, half slips, full slips, etc. 2) Don't tell your mother you do your laundry at midnight. You will get the "Are you trying to get yourself raped?" speech, even though you do it in a secured all girls residence.

    Thereafter followed a series of residences and apartments, and laundry facilities varying from beautiful second floor laundry room with windows and plants, to off the premises coin laundromats. Highlights include carrying laundry down 6 flights of stairs and a long steep hill to a laundromat, and then back up again, with wet clothes and linens (if a smallish load) or half wet clothes and linens, the non-drying to save money. Drying laundry indoors is an art and skill of festooning all surfaces and choosing them wisely (eg bed sheets over doors, smaller items on small surfaces, wise use of hangers on door knobs).

    My conjugal laundry experiences began with the hub proudly announcing he had taken the household laundry to the laundromat, done it, and returned it (dry) on his moped. I bravely kept a straight face, and a calm voice while inquiring after various items, most particularly a new grey wool skirt. "Yes, of course", he beamed, "your grey skirt too!". Miraculously it had just enough of a blend to survive a one time washing, and he is a warm wash/cold rinse guy no matter what the items.

    I can confirm the value of reading labels (and saving the special instructions cards), but would add that one should believe the label, and not become creative out of a sense of whatever need to do it differently. My best example would be the time I put a favourite sundress in with the pre-travel, last minute laundry load before heading off to participate as faculty in a one-week seminar of colleagues. Alas, it was polyester, and not enough of a blend to survive without "shrinkage". I loved and packed it anyway, and wore it in the belief it would stretch out. Well not enough in the "above the waist" part.

    I wore it twice anyway, thinking it wasn't particularly noticeable. At the end of the week party, the students, ie male and female nurses, social workers, physicians, and humanities specialists, all academics, did skits which included making fun of faculty. The comment about me included a joke by a female nurse about my being "shrink wrapped". I have to admit between my being a shrink and the shrunken dress it was hilarious!

    One final comment, a top loading washer often has miraculously detailed and helpful instructions on what to load and what settings to use on the underside of the lid. Idiot proof dials help too!

    Congratulations on your post and your laundry prowess and chutzpah! :D

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  9. LOL! what a confession!

    Congrats, and learning a new skill is always fun!

    P.S
    I'm inspired :-)

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  10. Omair:
    that's what we all wish. but housework and a fulltime job would be a nightmare.

    Samaher:
    same here, but i had my clothes ruined by so many laundry services, i'm too scared to send them away!!

    Haitham:
    well, good for you then!

    Nada:
    oh yes!! i'll have to memorize the user manual first!

    Chiara:
    I could never imagine sharing a washing machine, that thought scares me. and thankfully i have not shrunk any clothes! yet...

    Duha:
    I'm glad :)

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  12. it teaches us of things we take for granted.
    i do the dishes,vacuum and tidy up the house,but laundry and ironing is still an unexplored territory for me,and add to that cooking.

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