It’s obvious to everyone who’d take a quick look at this blog that I’m totally in love with Mumbai. However, I realize that I’m not giving a realistic picture of the city by showing only its beautiful aspects. Well, can’t help it – my reality is just like that. But here is one of my forum posts proving that I don’t always sound sugary sweet when talking about Mumbai 🙂
There are many places in India I enjoyed visiting, and even more places I hope to visit one day. But there are also a great number of touristic attractions that make me wonder why would one ever want to see them.
One of such pseudo attractions is Dhobi Ghat – an authentic open air laundry facility, situated under the Mahalaxmi bridge in Mumbai. The place has become especially popular after the Bollywood blockbuster “Dhobi Ghat”, or “Mumbai Diaries”, 2010.
According to the local customs, dhobi (a laundryman) is supposed to collect and wash linen and dirty clothes from the hotels, hospitals and homes of the city. Their working place is a giant area full of concrete cells where the actual show takes place – they soak, wash, scrub and dry around one million of articles a day. Traditional method of washing clothes is by slapping them against the concrete or stone surface, and the rhythmical movements of eight hundred laundrymen is a fascinating sight indeed.
Dhobi Ghat was founded back in the 19th century, and almost nothing has changed since then. Perhaps it’s the authentic spirit of the place that makes the tourists from all over the world smell detergent and look at their fellowmen slaving knee-deep in the sudsy water.
The dhobis are generally friendly and don’t mind being photographed by a touristic group while a guide informs the visitors about number of clothing articles washed every day or amount a laundryman pays to rent a concrete basin (yes yes, the land belongs to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation and one has to pay to be privileged to work in Dhobi Ghat).
But the question is not whether a dhobi objects being observed at work, but whether a tourist would like to be seen and photographed under similar circumstances. Of course, there is a difference in lifestyle and mentality, but the rule “treat the others as you expect to be treated” still applies.