One of the noises I often hear is the ‘thwack, thwack’ sound of women washing laundry on the rooftop opposite. They hit the soaked clothing against the pavement to force all the dirt and grime out - hence the ‘thwack’ sound. Some houses have a square piece of grooved stone on the floor of the courtyard which is used to scrub laundry against.
Dhobis are washer men who collect dirty laundry at your door, returning it the next day freshly washed and ironed. In many cities laundry is washed at the dhobi ghats which are like big open-air laundries.
The dhobi ghat in Mahalaxmi, Mumbai (Bombay). Courtesy of www.cepolina.com
A very common sight on every street is a pushcart with a man busy at work ironing huge piles of clothes with an old-fashioned charcoal iron. The top opens and is filled with hot, smoldering coals.
Though I’m a regular customer with the local ironing man, I use a washing machine to do the laundry. This isn’t always convenient because of the frequent power cuts, as I mentioned in a previous post. Also the strong dyes used in Indian clothes have led to several laundry mishaps. This post was inspired by my whites which came out of the machine yesterday tinged blue. This was just as the pinkish tone was starting to disappear after the last laundry disaster. I used to religiously separate colours from whites but more recently I’ve been throwing caution to the wind and washing everything in cold water – with obvious disastrous results. Any laundry tips are most welcome!