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Indian laundry men spin out decades-old tradition

Roberto Schmidt / AFP - Getty Images

A man looks for stains in a dirty shirt to be washed at an open air laundry facility known as the Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai.

 

This 25-acre space is a chaotic conglomeration of rows of open-air concrete wash pens, each with its own flogging stone and rooms where the washermen, also known as "dhobiwallahs", sleep and work. Many of the over 700 families that make a living out of this Dhobi Ghat, who had followed their father into the business, a life of dunking, thrashing and drying close to 1,000 items of clothing each day for just 7 USD, are worried about the future as the workload has gone down considerably. Most ordinary Indians who have seen their disposable incomes rise as the country's economy expands, have dispensed with the services of the dhobiwallahs for good since most modern homes are equipped with a washing machine.

Roberto Schmidt / AFP - Getty Images

Washers clean clothes at the Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai.

Roberto Schmidt / AFP - Getty Images

A man hangs clean clothes to dry at an open air laundry facility.

Roberto Schmidt / AFP - Getty Images

A worker carries a load of clean clothes to be delivered after being washed and ironed as he leaves the Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai.

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