Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Clotheslines of Egypt

All that talk of laundry yesterday and I didn't post a certain picture. On our train ride from Cairo to Alexandria last week, I started taking pictures out the window of some of the clotheslines we passed.

I like clotheslines. I like making guesses about people's families based on what clothes are drying in the breeze. You can tell how many kids a person has, whether those kids are young or old, boys or girls. You can even tell if the mom in the family is veiled or not. Long, densely packed clotheslines always get a sigh of sympathy from me. The ones with heavy robes or jeans or blankets hanging on them do, too. Laundry is hard work (and you can bet I'm not the only one in Cairo without a washing machine).

In Syria I would look at clotheslines to get tips on how to hang things so they dried faster. For example, I used to hang jeans in half over the clothesline. Then I looked around and noticed all the Syrian ladies were hanging their washed jeans pinned up at the cuffs and hanging upside down. Same with socks (pinned at the toes). I also learned from strangers' clotheslines the trick where you double up the clothes just at the edges so you can use fewer clothespins.

Here in Cairo, as far as my own personal laundry goes (when I'm not paying someone to do it, ha ha), I am using an indoor drying rack that we bought (grudgingly). The apartment has an outdoor laundry line but it faces a huge, dusty field. I'm sure you can guess what happens to damp, clean clothes when they hang in the breeze over a huge, dusty field. Yeah.

Anyway. Please enjoy this collage of the clotheslines of Egypt (click to enlarge).


karina said...

I should send you some of my pictures of clotheslines in Egypt. I like them too!

Liz Johnson said...

That's cool. A lot of people here in the student housing (if not the majority) dry their clothes out on the lines, and you can always tell whose laundry is where based on the recognizable shirts, size of clothes, number of kids' clothes, etc. I agree - clotheslines are very telling and interesting.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I like clotheslines too. Looking at them is very revealing & using them is refreshing. We didn't have a dryer for some years so I figured out those tricks you mentioned, and found if I hung laundry on a slightly breezy warm day it dried almost instantly (we weren't dealing w/ a dusty field like you are). We don't have a line here so yesterday when my skirt needed drying I hung it on a hanger on a branch of the cherry tree where it dried quickly.

B-Rad said...

I found your collage interesting not only by the number of clotheslines, but also by the number of satellite dishes. What a difference that has made in people's lives around the world.

Shannan said...

I absolutely adore clotheslines! I think it is a combination of the energy saver in me combined with the santizing power of the sun. Whatever it is, I have been BEGGING for an outdoor clothesline for years at my Oregon home. Funny thing is - my husband and his extended family think it is really white trash. Hmmmm....what's up with that?? Currently I take at least two to three loads a week (mostly the baby clothes and my clothes) and hang them on my backyard gutter. Come on - surely that is way more white trash than a nice clothesline!

The Conductor said...

Hmm, so far this week I've spent in Syria with my family who live here (which is probably a factor) has been a lot of your original "do it yourself" post but for just about everything out of the house we've paid others to do like cleaning, ironing, delivering food, etc.

My only problem with clothes lines is that I'm always the one that ends up getting sent to pick up anything if it's fallen off :(

Anonymous said...

As I've travelled around the world, I have often thought how interesting it would be to compile a photo journal completely about laundering clothes. It fascinates me to no end. Watching women around the world (and it is primarily the women who launder the clothing) slap clothing on communal, worn, grooved washing well stones or on rocks in the rivers....to see the different ways they hang out their clothes to dry.... somehow, even now that I'm back in the States, whenever I fold my laundry I think about it all and feel so connected with the women of the world. Sarah


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