Living the traditional way

I did laundry today – 3 short sleeve shirts, 5 long sleeve shirts, 2 pants and 1 skirt.

I know you are thinking, what’s so interesting to write about doing laundry? A lot of people do laundries on weekends.

You are right. Doing laundry is a boring job. There is nothing interesting about it.

But as I was washing my clothes this afternoon, it dawned on me that the way I am doing it is something interesting and special, at least it’s not conventional – I hand washed my clothes and let them air dry.

I don’t hand wash all my clothes, only the ones that are more delicate or I like and want to keep them for longer time.

When I grew up, we didn’t have any electronics at home – no wash machine, no dryer, no microwave, no TV, no refrigerator. The only thing we had was a radio.

I remember we had to wash clothes in the river that was by our house, or drew water from the well to wash clothes.

Last year when I visited my hometown Suzhou, a very modern and prosperous city in China, I was surprised to see a couple of people still washing their clothes in the river (see the picture I took last year). What’s changed is the water is cleaner now that it used to be, and there are cars parked by the river.

I bought my mother a wash machine in 1989 when I returned to China for a visit from Germany. It was a rare commodity at that time. I needed a special ticket to buy it at a designated store in Shanghai. And the tickets to buy electronics such as TVs, wash machines, and refrigerators were only given to people who returned to China from overseas. The ticket itself could be sold for a lot of money.

To this day, my mother still likes to hand wash her clothes, usually small items. She uses the wash machine only for heavy and big items. What’s why the wash machine I bought her 22 years ago is still in good working condition.

Like my mother, I also like to hand wash some of my clothes. I don’t use dryer for most of my clothes. Especially in summer, I usually use clothesline and let everything air dry naturally.

I found that most clothes are not worn-out, but washed-out or dried-out, i.e., they are kaput because of using the wash machine and dryer.

I have clothes that I wear at work and clothes that I wear at home. When I get home from work, the first thing I usually do is to change my clothes. Because I take good care of my clothes, I don’t have to wash them all the time. When I wash the delicate and favorite ones, I do it by hand. As the result, my clothes always last a long time.

And I don’t watch TV. I also cook my meals from scratch every day.

So to some degree, I am still living the traditional way. That’s my choice. I like it.

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