A Fresher’s Guide to Dirty Laundry

I’ve been living in a hostel for over a month and I feel like I’ve been through enough (physically and mentally) to let out multiple fuming rants about a bunch of hot topics. I’ve always pondered how Harry Potter must have gone through the things we freshers have just gone through. The novels would have been much longer if JK Rowling had to describe Harry and Ron dragging themselves mid-sleep to the bathrooms with buckets in their hands (okay, they didn’t really use buckets) or taking the ice bucket challenge every morning (“Brace yourselves, Winter is coming”) or fighting over themselves for the hot chapatis before they run out (or they could have just said chapatiumheatiosa) or stuff themselves into buses like lab rats in a cage so they won’t be punishingly late to class (those whiners just needed to walk) or complain that their wands weren’t getting proper wifi signals in their dorm rooms (but yeah, wands don’t need signals).

More than all that, there has always been quite a bit of controversy over another major issue running marathons in my head for a long time- Rowling never described how students did their laundry at Hogwarts – which is an insult to people who have been through the ordeal of washing their clothes in a hostel. The struggle is real! Finding the perfect washing machine is harder than finding the perfect girl- and you don’t choose the machine, the machine choses you. Okay, that’s a little dramatic. You just have to be satisfied with the machine you can get.  Usually, I have to travel to 2 or 3 different bathrooms and examine almost 10 washing machines before I make a decision that won’t end up in me getting my face stuffed into the toilet for stopping someone else’s wash mid-way or make my stress levels rise faster than Germany’s score against Brazil.

Having found a suitable partner (the machine), you now have to caress her and convince her that you are worthy of having your clothes washed by her (yes, it’s a girl). Having never used a washing machine before, I was shocked by the absence of the “big red button” that should’ve been on top. Yet another cause of frustration was that two winters  (I’m talking Westerosi winters here) would have passed before the water would fill up leading me to think she rejected me and didn’t respond. Finally, I’m left with no options but to pour in water myself using a bucket because the washing machine is too lazy to do its own work.  More often than not, I forget to go back and get my clothes on time, so like most decent hostellers I leave my bucket on top of the machine so the next person can take out my clothes, put them in the goddamn bucket and then do his own business.  I’ve had one bucket stolen and my clothes dropped on the floor (please note they were separate incidents).

Back to the point, how in Merlin’s beard did Harry wash his clothes? Did the house elves do it? No, they can’t be given clothes, however dirty and for whatever purpose. But there have been references to the existence of ‘laundry’ in Hogwarts. For example, in Chamber of Secrets, Hermione stole robes from the laundry before the PolyJuice potion fiasco. Obviously, ‘Freshers’ at Hogwarts are too inept to perform the Tergeo or Scourgify spells. So Harry had to pick up his dirty clothes, drag his ungrateful ass to the laundry, then realise that he forgot the detergent (accio Surf Excel!) and finally wash his clothes in a magic washing machine and then go back up and whine about his magical homework.

Lucky bastard.

There is a small speculation that house elves can pick up clothes without their owners handing it to them and remain bonded but that has never been clarified in the novels. On a more serious note, I am an IITian and I’ve learnt to do my laundry much more efficiently now. I’m starting to adapt to the icy cold baths, the daily bus rush and of course the hard-enough-to-knock-a-man-out chapatis (I just eat rice instead). I honestly can’t believe it’s just been a month and there is so much more to go. Another fresher looking forward (with a weak smile on the face).

-Arasu Arun

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