Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Mumbai, a sensory overload. We visit the Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai.


For those who have never visited this city,
Mumbai is a sensory overload.
Noise, cars, scooters and even the sound of cattle lowing assails 
the ears and eyes of an unprepared visitor.
And how DO you prepare to engage a city that has 24 million inhabitants?
Here in South Africa, that is nearly half of our entire population!
Johannesburg, where I live only has 5 million people.
This is just one of the many vistas that my wife and I enjoyed while on a tour of the city.
Where we went from here, turned out to be yet another unusual
 experience for a Western tourist.

Pictures this if you can...
We crossed a relatively quiet road, looking both ways, 
several times before dashing across.
We wound our way through a narrow alley and discovered THIS.
The Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat, the largest outdoor laundry in the world!
(As verified by the Guinness Book of World records in 2011.
The category..."Most people hand washing clothes at a single location")

Washing is brought from all over the city.
The services here are used by 2-star hotels, garment dealers, caterers and clubs.
Each item is marked and I was informed that it is not often that an item gets lost.

Set up in 1890 during the reign of the British Raj,
this open air laundry has a series of concrete pens,
 each with its own flogging stone.
For the clothes, not the workers.
And speaking of workers, most of the Dhobis (laundrymen) are male.
That being said, I did notice a couple of women working alongside them.

There is metered water supplied to each of the wash pens
and the Dhobis are charged for usage.
This operates for between 18-20 hours a day, 
with 1000's of people washing clothes here. 

A view of the pens and just some of the laundry being dried.

Some of the wealthier Dhobis have now installed electric washing and drying machinery.

If you are paying for water, you might as well have a quick wash yourself.
Around 200 families live in and around this Ghat, 
and the occupation is passed down from generation to generation.

Bearing that fact in mind, I did not find it this school out of place.
I looked inside during a lesson, and the class seemed to consist of young children.

This is hard work, but it puts food on the tables of many.
The washing pens were cleaned after each wash.
Water does not seem to be a problem in India.

Not a peg in sight!
Twisted washing lines hold the clothes firmly in place.

Once the washing process is completed, usually in the mornings,
the clothes are then hung up to dry.
100000 pieces of laundry are washed here on a daily basis.
This particular Ghat has become a tourist destination 
and it also featured in a 2011 movie, aptly named Dhobi Ghat
or its alternative title, Mumbai Diaries.
It previewed at the Toronto International Film Festival
and was well received on the art circuit.

Many thanks to our guide, Oves, 
for sharing this most interesting space with us.


Our trip itinerary was superbly handled by this travel company.
And specifically by Mr Aman, their Senior Travel Advisor
I would highly recommend that you contact them,
should you be considering a trip to India.
For more information on what they offer,
visit their website:
http://e2travels.com


This is where we stayed during our time in Mumbai.

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