Snow White and Spotless

Laundromats featured often, and prominently, in the American detective stories I devoured in my childhood. Open late into the night, and operated by surly attendants who handed out tickets, they seemed to be quite exciting places. There, women talked indiscreetly about rich old grandmothers or cheating husbands, men washed bloodied clothes after dark deeds. Perry Mason would, by some sleight of hand, get hold of a time stamped ticket and prove that the crime could not have been committed before 11.30 PM; Nancy Drew would call the cops to capture the man taking home the suspect washing.

Compared to all this, washing clothes seemed quite a mundane task at home. Forget laundromats, even washing machines were rare in my neighborhood. Wet soapy clothes were slapped on the washing stone in the backyard by our maid, Nirmala while she chatted with the neighbor’s maid Shantha across the fence. The road side Romeo’s appreciative whistle, “chechi’s” unreasonable demand to work next Sunday, the faint burning smell of fish curry on the stove – Continue reading Snow White and Spotless