Saturday, 18 February 2012

Washing Day.

Looking over the bridge at Mahalaxmi Station and facing west early in the morning, the hazy horizon punctured by newly built highrise residential buildings among slums and disused colonial textile factories, is Dhobi Ghat. Rooftops lined with clothes, labyrinthine networks of stings and poles and consecutive cubicles dotted with people slamming fabrics against the concrete. These are the dhobis at work. The men and women doing most of the city's laundry in the municipal washing neighborhood.

They each rent their little concrete vats for a few hundred rupees and are the collectors of the washing brought from houses, hotels and even freshly sewn garments from the clothing factories. They'll wash, dry and iron everything before sending it back like new. They also live here, generation after generation in the trade. And so early in the day they'll be cooking or getting ready for school, stop for a chat or because you're in their way, wash tirelessly or buy you a chai. It's just another way of doing things.