The cousins ….and The Dhobi On our holidays in Kodukulanji, a Dhobi, a human washing machine, would be posted to the house. For some reason they always walked around with a long stick in their hands. It may have been to ward off stray dogs or children. He would set up his laundrette in the backyard, near the well. Every morning, the dirty clothes would be collected from the house, marked with indelible ink, tied in a bundle and taken down to the river to be washed. The clothes would be washed with a bar of soap and then beaten mercilessly against a rough stone to get the dirt out. After the final rinse with “blue”, an inky liquid that made whites whiter and colours brighter, the clothes would be starched with water drained from cooked rice and hung out to dry on clothes lines that seemed to block out the sun for miles.

source link If any of the kids went near the clothes hung out to dry, there would be angry protests from the watchful Dhobi with his stick in hand, who stood guard while it dried. Shoo, go away
Don’t touch the clothes
Useless kids
Shoo After the clothes dried, they were removed from the clothesline and ironed on a makeshift ironing table on which several blankets were placed as padding. The heavy, cast iron press was heavy. It had an inner compartment to accommodate live charcoal. With usage, the temperature of the iron dropped and the inner compartment would be replenished with hot charcoal. Since there was no inbuilt thermostat, temperature regulation came with practice as they sprinkled cold water onto the iron to cool it and filled it with charcoal to heat it.

click here By night fall, all the clothes would be placed in neat piles on a bench for collection with no mix up or loss.

9b76b66c70dc9745b3fd970d748e7f66 The coal was left heaped up in the pile behind the kitchen. The boy cousins would used the coal in all its different forms to play pranks. We had dorms to sleep in. All the girl cousins slept in one room and all the boy cousins slept in another room, in another part of the house. We had to wake up at 5 am every morning for prayers. Most times we sleepwalked to the sitting room and slept in piles on the floor and were poked awake to sing and pray. Prayers over, there would be muffled giggles as some of the cousins would look like players from the Black and White Minstrel Show.

go to site Many would have their faces painted with charcoal. The Pranksters had struck again .

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