Chanspa, Leh, Ladakh
It had to happen sometime. I had to do laundry in freezing weather, in a gurgling stream (melt-water coming down from the mountains), my hands red and freezing and numb, the water so cold the detergent barely dissolves.
I was surrounded by Ladakhis (men and women) doing the same thing. Other people came to fill up their jerry cans and big plastic jugs with the piped stream water. I am not sure where the piped water comes from - hopefully from some place where people are not doing laundry.
A sign painted in both English and Ladakhi says very clearly "Please do not wash clothing or vehicles here." Yet this is the community laundromat.
To do Ladakhi laundry, you will need:
-at least one plastic bucket (doubles as a way to carry the clothes to and from)
-heavy duty plastic "post mortem" gloves to put over your cloth gloves, the kind my cousin the vet used to deliver foals; also perhaps the kind used to work with radioactive substances
-a big piece of plastic or something to lay the clean clothes on while you are using the bucket to wash the rest of them. Or, you could throw them over the chain link fence...but they clung with the freeze immediately to the metal.
Before I had finished washing all the items, icicles were dripping from the clean pants on the fence.
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