Maithreyi Nandakumar

A Laundry Study


The array of rolled clothes

stare back from packed suitcase,

snug in close-knit comfort.

Heavy from dirt of travel,

to be washed, dried, and ironed.


I unfurl monochrome tulip-print tunic

which they stripped at the border,

frisked for weapons and drugs –

the top as flimsy as their reasons.

Thick socks, caked with mud,

on hiking up Snake Trail in Masada,

later drenched in flash floods

in the rose-red desert of Petra.


Swimsuit tumbles open in flimsiness,

in which I staggered into water,

stumbling over gravel and pebbles

smeared in clay with crystals of salt.

Lying back in a briny cradle, afloat forever,

my severely cracked heels turned smooth –

a miracle in the Holy Land, in truth!


I snuggle into scarf of Alpaca wool, which

protected me from cold and rain,

provided modesty at Temple Mount,

and glamour on New Year’s Eve.

Camel Cocktails mixed by hipster barman

(beer with white wine) as we

gorged on kohlrabi,

whole grilled cauliflowers and avocado.


Alas, all memories need a good soak

in good old English water and detergent.

Wet loads lugged to the launderette

to feed the giant industrial dryer,

I am distracted by the test cricket…

I dream of sunny climes,

where bright clothes dry by the river.


Back in my study, mostly a laundry room,

I open out the ironing board

as steam smoothens and creases out,

all traces of my two-week escape

now going, going…gone.


I travelled to Israel and Jordan in Dec of 2018/beginning of Jan 2019. It was truly a unique experience. From the Mediterranean glamour of Tel Aviv, the machine-gun toting teenagers on army duty, the grim snaking wall at Bethlehem and Banksy’s genius artwork…and then crossing over to Jordan to the ancient city of Petra to see camels in the rain…unforgettable.

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