Who likes laundry day? Not me. Doing laundry can be a hassle, but eventually it becomes unavoidable. After wearing the same clothes for far too long, this week it was time for me to break out the buckets. 

Laundry supplies. Detergent not pictured.

Doing laundry in Imphal has taught me the value of something very basic, water. Here, water does not come to your sink through municipal pipes. When we turn on the faucet, the water that comes gushing out is simply rainwater that has been funneled into a barrel and stored on the roof. During much of the year, the rainfall is enough to swell the rivers and supply the city’s 200,000 residents. During the dry season, however, water can get scarce, making it difficult to do things like shower, wash dishes and do laundry.

When I arrived in mid-February, the city was in the midst of its now annual water shortage. By mid-March, turning on the faucet was something we did only out of habit (Whaaa? Oh yeah, there’s no water). Even the private water suppliers were out, and the only water we could get was in big, 5 liter bottles for Rs 50 ($.79) a pop.

Reaching deep to scoop out the water. There wasn't much left!

Ready to start. Notice the rubber hose positioned to direct rainwater into the tank.

Hand-washing clothes is no joke. My hands get so tired!

Carrying my freshly washed clothes up to the roof to hang.

Eventually, the rains started, refilling our tanks and prompting city residents to dart around in the downpour making sure that every pipe was directing water into a barrel or a bucket. But we still have to be careful. Who knows when the next big storm will come? 

With all that in mind, laundry day can be a challenge. How many clothes can I wash with how little water? This week, I washed five shirts, two pairs of pants, four pairs of socks, one towel, and several miscellaneous items (i.e. underwear) with just two buckets of water. Pretty good, I think!

Photo Credit for all photos: Claire Eggers, Media Fellow
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