Updated: Jul 6
As we drove over the bridge of the Mahalaxmi Station Mumbai, India, the open air laundromat (Dhobi Ghat) came into view.
I was confronted by rows of open-air concrete wash pens, each fitted with its own flogging stone.
Not only was there washing of laundry happening, but people seemed to be living in the ghat. My curiosity was peaked and I desperately wanted to go inside to see the life and activities, but I wanted to meet with the people who occupied this intriguing place.
Luckily I was granted permission to enter the ghat and with camera in hand, an interesting and edifying few hours started.
Splish, splash and pounding of cloth on concrete
What I was presented with on entering the ghat was a busy chaotic scene of people venturing out of their homes, a spectacle of pure white washing and vibrant colour of the clothing being pounded on the wash pens and hanging from ropes to dry.
For 18 to 20 hours of each day over 7,000 people flog, scrub, dye and bleach clothes on concrete wash pens.
The washing is then hung out on ropes to dry, neatly pressed and then the garments are transported to different parts of the city.
People of the Dhobi Ghats
I explored the Dhobi Ghats early in the morning and witnessed the dawn activities of the approximately 200 families who are resident on the premises.
Men were doing their daily ablutions, the women were getting the children sorted for the day, so that they could attend to their duties in the laundry.
Their was much toothbrushing, soap lathering and water being splashed on bodies, fires being kindled for preparation of meals... and generally much scurrying about.
A trip to the Mumbai Dhobi Ghats is a must for photographers. My joy was having the opportunity to get to meet the families who live and work there and to photograph them in their environment.