photo: Eddy van Wessel


Sunday, March 10, 2013

A lot of water is no good

,,My mother always said: use much water, then it will be clean!’’

My Kurdish friend tries to explain the reason why Kurds use so much water: over 700 liter per person per day. Compare that to the 150 liters that the Dutch use – even though Holland is a country with much rain and plenty of water. ,,Do not leave the tap running when you brush your teeth!’’ my mother would warn us children. That stays with you for a lifetime and sure keeps you from wasting water. And even more: it has given me a sensitivity against any water wastage.

Water cleans, and a lot of it cleans even better - that is the simple believe of most in Kurdistan. You can see that daily, in summer and winter. Women, men and children are hosing down the streets, trying to get rid of dirt and dust, but mainly getting rid of carefully cleaned, precious drinking water. That is pumped up from deep wells, lakes and rivers – and is for the main part lost after it hits the streets.

Since I have lived in Kurdistan I have been fighting with cleaning ladies, who did not only waste water but also ruined wooden floors and furniture legs. Yes, water cleans – but only when you use it with the right equipment and in the right way. And I know, as I am from one of the cleanest countries in the world. Use a bucket; I tried to tell the cleaners, mostly housewives who had learned from their mothers that much water cleans better. Use a bucket and a cloth, and do not make things too wet as the material cannot stand it. My country even offers a training course to cleaners.

But my Kurdish cleaners would not listen to me. Possibly because cleaning the Dutch way costs more energy. You have bent your back many times to clean the cloth in the bucket. When using a broom to sweep the floors, you need more human power than when chasing dust with the water hose. After sacking a number of cleaners, the net result is that now I am desperately looking for a cleaning lady that can clean and yet does not waste the water.

Most of the foreigners I know in Kurdistan have finally employed an Ethiopian or Bangladeshi cleaner. This is taking jobs away from the Kurds, but what to do? We want our houses cleaned in such a way that we are satisfied, and not in a way that the cleaner way proudly says how 'zohr pak' it is while he or she just threw some water around and wiped that away again.

It’s time Kurdish mothers realize that a lot of  water does not do the job. That less, applied well, is much better.

This was published in Kurdish as a column in Kurdistani Nwe.

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