It is really easy to get behind on the ironing, but here in India, there are many easy ways to get that ironing taken care of without touching an iron yourself — with my favorite being the corner “ironing” stand. I drive by this ironing stand, which is at the end of my street, every single time I leave my house, and it still fascinates me.
It is usually the sametwo women that are there most days of the week doing ironing for whomever in the neighborhood brings it over. Their work day will vary depending on the amount of business brought out from all the buildings in this neighborhood. I see shirts hanging after they are finished, and sheets stacked and nicely folded after they are freshly pressed. It is very inexpensive to get an article of clothing ironed there. According to my driver it probably costs something equivalent to 20 or 30 US cents to get one piece ironed. Now, those are his prices, I am sure that this little stand in our neighborhood may charge a little more due to the clientele.
This woman has a smile on her face every time I drive by, even if it is 110 degrees outside and she is getting warmer by doing this kind of work. It is so tempting to want to drop a few articles of clothing off to her, which at some point I probably will, but my maid loves to do my ironing here and stays right on top of it so I am afraid she wouldn’t be too happy if I took it down to the corner business. I have also wondered how things stay clean when they are ironed in that environment, as it is out in the open, cars driving very closely nearby with dirt being kicked up every time they go down the road. The fascinating thing more than the stand, though, is the iron. There is no electricity involved in this business. You will not find an electrical outlet anywhere nearby. Instead, they load this iron with hot coals and it keeps the iron very warm as the ironing is being done.
The local ironing stand is also a good shady spot to stop and have a good chat. This woman, on the day I stopped to ask if I could take a picture, had plenty of company to help the work day move faster by conversation.
Another little fact that I should add here when it comes to having those shirts ironed, is about dry cleaners here. There are dry cleaners at every market but my experience is that there are very few that produce a product that you would be accustomed to. For example, the chemicals used in the dry cleaners here leave a much stronger odor in the shirts and I think they also wear the clothes out faster. The very high end hotels don’t use those same chemicals and I have found one other nearby dry cleaner that seems to be closer to the quality I would have in the US. It ends up costing me as much as if I had the shirt dry cleaned in the US, but at least it doesn’t have that harsh chemical smell for Tyler to sniff all day as he wears it.
So, if you are looking at that pile of ironing and wondering when you will ever get to it, know that India has the solution — most maids take care of it, and if not, then the local ironing stand is always open!