The Dhobi Ghats of Mumbai
On a tour of the city of Mumbai, we visited one of the Dhobi Ghats, an open-air laundromat (lavoir). These are rows of open-air concrete wash pens, each fitted with its own flogging stone. A fascinating place and unlike any laundry service I’ve ever seen. The washers, known as dhobis, spend their days washing the clothes and linen from the city’s hotels and hospitals. The Dhobi Ghat provides work for hundreds of families whose jobs are passed down from father to son.
Laundry gets soaked, brushed with soap water and bashed against the concrete pens before hung out to dry.
Dhobi wallah washing clothes at one of the washing pens
Dhobi wallahs standing in their concrete pens washing laundry
There is time for grooming between washing
Clothes are dried by hanging anywhere where there is space. Sometimes they are laid flat on cement beds to dry. There seems to be a lot of organization in what seems like chaos as every piece of laundry finds it’s back to the rightful owner. Each dhobi wallah has their own mark/code that is used to mark the laundry and identifies the owner. We made use of the hotel laundry services and it is a pretty remarkable service that works considering the number of items that get washed each day and the number of hands it goes through from the concrete pens to the folding and eventual ironing.
Happy faces. The children of the Dhobi’s are schooled in a classroom within the Ghat.