Blog - First Stop – Dhobi Ghat laundry. 30.12.19

Blog - First Stop – Dhobi Ghat laundry. 30.12.19

On the penultimate day of December 2019 I am admiring the haze soaked vista from my air-conditioned carriage on the Jan Shatabdi Express train from Mumbai to Goa which departed at 5.20 am. Some may consider it an odd decision to set up a new business and then the second it is launched to depart for a 6 week tour of India leaving a note on my site to say ‘be back soon’, but then I probably am a bit odd!

After leaving a job teaching Textiles I promised myself that for the remainder of my life I would focus on spending as many days as possible on the things I want to do, not those I have to do or am expected to do. Number one on my to do list was to bring to life a business idea I had been harbouring for several years, that of pre-cut ‘ready-to-sew’ garment making kits, to make home sewing more accessible to beginners. Second on my list was to travel…to as many places as I can humanly fit in, now that my time is not confined to breaks in the school holidays and to what is affordable or appropriate with 2 children in tow.

Dhobi ghat

Dhobi Ghat colour and chaos

So I start my travels with India. Not for the 6 months that my husband would have preferred…now that would have been suicide for my newly established business…but with a compromise of 6 weeks that I am sure will be more than ample for us both to be longing for a return to the cool comfort of a Wet Weekend in Wigan! I have come to terms with the fact that although I am determined to focus on living life the way I want to, I am unable to simply just chill and I have an insatiable desire to learn. So, throughout this journey my biggest new learn is how to Insta and Blog, rather than Netflix & Chill. Now that can’t be difficult, I thought, just a diary on line. But it has taken me months to get to grips with social media, which I shunned until I realised it’s importance in the world, and to get my website and blog up and running. It was then a huge leap of faith to start typing…. Anyway, I finally got there as you can see if you are reading this!

Mumbai laundry

Happy tour guides of The Ghat

I have a fascination with all things Design, but particularly textiles. Textiles are in my blood and have been in my family’s blood for generations so of course one of the places I had to visit in Mumbai were the Dobhi Ghats, the huge laundries in Mumbai where every day hundreds of workers hand wash the hotel textiles from sheets to shirts in dozens of concrete baths. Over the higgledy piggledy corrugated rooves and along the labyrinthine lanes, sheets hang like hundreds of limp sails caught on a listless day in the hot humid heat of the city, never truly white after their first wash as both the air and the water have a constant beige tint due to pollution.

White laundry Mumbai

Ingenious lack of pegs

No pegs are needed due washing lines ingeniously created from two jute ropes tightly twisted together between which the corners of the textiles are trapped, and bamboo poles prop up the lines in every direction like a giant scattering of Jack Straws amongst the sheets.As our young guide takes us down dark alleys and onto hot tin rooves for the best view I most certainly don’t feel like a cat. I have no idea what is holding up that roof so decide its best not to think about it, get the shot and get the hell out of there!

A hot tin roof is perfect for drying