Dhobi Ghat Laundromat – it even rhymes! “But what does it all mean?” I wondered. So I turned to Google. As you do. It turns out that the words Dhobi Ghat are used all over India to refer to any place where many washers of laundry gather.
But the most famous of all such places is the Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai that was build back in 1890.
Back at Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai however, the focus is very much on laundry. For 18 to 20 hours each day, over 7,000 dhobis flog, scrub, dye and bleach clothes while working in concrete wash pens. Some of the wealthier dhobis no longer wash the clothes manually in the pens and have installed large washing machines and dryers instead.
For the majority of dhobis however, doing the laundry is a manual process and – once washed - the laundry then dries on ropes before being pressed and delivered back to the different parts of the city from where it first came. The dhobi’s biggest clients are smaller neighbourhood laundries, garment dealers, wedding decorators, caterers, hotels, hospitals and clinics and various clubs.
In 2011 a melancholy art-house movie called Dhobi Ghat was released which is also known by the title of ‘Mumbai Diaries’.
According to one reviewer the movie “Portrays the drudgery and the magnificence of the city in unforgettable imageries" – with many of those imageries filmed on location at Dhobi Ghat.
The movie’s on Netflix. It has only three and a half stars on Rotten Tomatoes – but what the heck – I’m going to give it a go – wish me luck!