Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mumbai's Dhobi Ghat - open air washing machine

The Dhobi Ghat at Mumbai, India, is the world's largest open air laundromat where the maximum number of people wash clothes simultaneously at a single location. The Guinness World Records certified it in March 2011. (Click here for more photos)

The world-famous Dhobi Ghat at Mumbai survives from the British era when prisoners were made to wash clothes here. Now entire families wash clothes for international brands, hospitals, railways as well as hotels and also live in the same space. Even the famous 'Chor Bazare' of Mumbai - the notorious market which allegedly sells stolen stuff - brings its worn-out clothes for mending and washing to re-sell these to poor people at dirt cheap prices.

Over decades, the washermen have moved on from hand-washing and steaming clothes to huge washing machines, dryers, LPG gas and electricity connections now. Often, in a matter of less than a day, they get the clothes, wash these, adds chemicals for various treatments, dry them and hand these back over to the upmarket brands.

Apart from the washing of clothes, the people here have expanded operations to sterilise and iron clothes. A tourist spot, it has had visits by celebrities like former US president Bill Clinton, Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, the Australian cricket team besides most of the Mumbai film industry stars.

Not only have a number of Hindi movies been made here but even advertisements for detergents have been shot in the washing bays of Dhobi Ghat.

The copious amounts of water is provided by the municipality and is charged but the water laden with organic matter, detergents as well as a host of chemicals goes straight into the Worli River without any treatment.

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