Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cultural Conundrum #7: Wet Clothes and Ingenuity

Spring has brought a lot of life to Wuhan in the past few weeks. Children are outside playing, older folks are practicing Tai Chi and walking around, gardens are filling with flowers, and trees are filling with...


I like to think of it as a Chinese Charlie Brown Christmas tree. If you've seen the movie you know what I'm talking about.

But why stop with the trees? It's spring for Pete's sake! Those bushes are looking a bit drab...

...that's better.

You see, dryers are a hot commodity here (nothing like a good pun to keep things flowing, I always say). Of the few dormitories on my campus that have washing machines, none has dryers. None of my friends' apartments has dryers. I have yet to hear of a family owning a dryer.

In China -- or at least in Wuhan -- if you want your clothes machine-dried, you have to go to the cleaners. Otherwise, you better hope you have access to a clothesline.

But, as the old joke goes, "How many clotheslines can you fit in a city in China?"

OK, maybe that's not an old joke. Actually, I've never heard that before in my life. But you get the idea. There simply isn't enough room for clotheslines. For example, all of us in my 13-floor dormitory have to share 2 clothes lines about 40 feet long.

But people here are resourceful. If the weather is nice outside you are bound to come across a lot of clothes, some dangling from strange places. And while the trees and bushes are strange, I have seen stranger.

If a power line is within reaching distance of your window, why not? Sure, you might get electrocuted, but what are the chances?


  1. Maybe they want the "Spring Fresh" scent in their clothes. Dryer sheets are really expensive so why not get the smell for free?

    I started laughing at your jokes pretty hard so I had to read this post out loud to Bryan. He started laughing as well.

  2. Ha, I can guarantee that there are no dryer sheets that offer Wuhan's "Spring Fresh" scent. It's very....unique.