Suds and curry 

The Observer hates doing laundry. We always have. Even as a small child, The Observer operated on the "Can Get Another Day of Wear by Adding Cologne" method of laundry control, and that was when we had ready access to washing powders, limitless hot water, and our own washer and dryer.

Our love of laundry day has only declined since we've been relegated to lugging our laundry to the laundromat in the past few months. After a series of events at our last place of residence involving a bunch of mysterious fires that you may have heard about, we have found ourselves in a new apartment and reconnecting with that place unknown to us since our college days: the soap-and-lint-smelling hovel that seems a congregation point for that portion of the great human parade usually found only in bus stations and state fairs.

The Observer hates the laundromat. We hate sitting there, watching the clothes go round and round, waiting for the buzz so we can reload or unload or get the hell out. While our revulsion isn't quite bad enough to lug our duds down to a boat ramp on the Arkansas River and pound them on a rock, at this point we will do pretty much anything to avoid making another trip to the public washatorium. In a perfect world, The Observer would purchase new clothing with the unlimited funds available in that perfect world and hold a twice-monthly bonfire, fed by our discarded unmentionables.

Recently, after nearly three weeks of procrastination and sloth, The Observer loaded up the car with smelly clothes and headed off to join the soon-to-be-washed masses. We were driving around aimlessly, putting it off until the last possible second, when our phone buzzed with a reprieve of sorts, or at least a good excuse: a last minute assignment to attend a school board meeting. Does it say something about how much we hate the laundromat that we actually got excited about going to a school board meeting, which are usually on the same level of excitement as flossing, flushing a dead goldfish or scribbling out forms at the dentist's office? Yes, it does. Thanks for asking.

The downside is: Our brain has apparently taken that reprieve as a pardon. The Observer has been driving around in a car laden with dirty laundry for several days now, and the situation is quickly reaching crisis level. Try as we might to avoid looking at the basket in the rearview, our passenger can't be ignored forever. We're long out of both excuses and clean underwear.

The Observer is always interested in the stories of those who move to Arkansas from distant lands. Here's a dispatch from a friend and Deputy Observer from India, who recently got her green card and is on her way to becoming a proud Arkansan someday. She's even developed a bit of Southern twang in her voice, not to mention her appetite:

"Moving to Arkansas as an exchange student when I was 17 could be called a culture shock, although it was more like a completely alien experience. I went from a city of 15 million to one of 15,000 — from a vast metropolis that had a mall on every corner (I was 17 and spoiled), to a little town where I had to drive an hour and a half to find a Sears store. The food, along with the terms used to describe it, was always puzzling. I knew that in order to survive, I would have to adapt. I changed my accent. I learned that what we in India call 'biscuits' are referred to as cookies. What we call lady fingers are okra. Curd is yogurt. Biscuits — the American version, the rolled out and round and eaten at breakfast kind — were soon my new favorite food. 

"That being said, there are certain food terms that I refuse to conform to because they are, putting it mildly, inaccurate. Take Chai for example. Chai is the Hindi and Mandarin translation of the word 'tea.' So when people at Starbucks refer to 'Chai tea,' they are actually ordering a 'tea tea.' That bugs me. However, it's the improper use of the word curry — and looking at the bottle in the grocery store labeled 'curry powder' — that really gets me fired up!

Curry is the generic word that was coined by the British to describe dishes made with a mixture of ground spices. There are hundreds of varieties that vary based on the region in Southeast Asia, where they hail from, each with its very own blend of spices. So it annoys me to hear people say, 'I hate curry,' or even 'I love curry.' My automatic response to that is: 'Oh, which one?' Their response is usually a quizzical 'there's more than one?' look.

I really hate to be a curry curmudgeon. I understand if you don't know the name of every curry you have ever tasted. I only ask that you acknowledge the fact that there is, in fact, more than one. It's just good Southern manners."



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