During business trips to Mumbai our hosts would love to take us to see the worlds largest outdoor laundry – The Dhobi Ghat. It is the most amazing sight, especially when the laundry is hanging on the lines in the afternoon blowing in the wind as far as the eye can see. So , a 15 minute bash at writing something about this amazing place.
Ramesh dropped his daughter off at the school gate. She looked so smart in her green uniform with matching ribbons in her hair. She was a clever girl and the money he paid for her education would be worth every penny. She would be a Doctor or a Scientist he thought. He was always proud to see her off to school before he made his way to the Dhobi Ghat in central Mumbai. The traffic was chaotic, but he put the radio on and the air conditioning kept him cool as the temperature outside started to soar.
As he got nearer to the Dhobi, the roads became packed with the workers heading for their stones. Some had already picked up from offices and hotels on the way in and were weighed down with washing wrapped into large bundles balancing precariously on their backs. He remembered those days with a sense of pride. His Grandfather had first rented one of the 731 stones before the war. His father had taken over the business and finally he had inherited it himself when his father was too old and weary from the years of back braking toil in the Dhobi.
He pulled into his car park and entered the office block. It was a small office with just one desk and a door leading through to the production area. The team were already hard at it, processing the washing into the new washers and dryers he had invested in. Business was good and the loans for the new equipment were steadily being paid off.
He hung his coat on the door and changed out of his suit and into his work clothes. He looked like all the other 10,000 workers breaking their backs on the stones hour after hour. He walked up to the meeting point and was just in time to see the minibus pulling into the lay-by over the railway line. He greeted the tourists alighting from the bus as he always did:
‘Welcome, welcome. Today I am going to show you the historic Mumbai Ghobi Ghat, the oldest, biggest and best outdoor laundry in the world. Every day we wash and clean over half a million pieces of laundry and never one is misplaced or lost. Only in Mumbai could this be done. Welcome welcome’.
The money paid by the tourists, he knew, would pay another months school fees for their beloved Daughter.