>Bombay – the rich, the poor, and the washing

>I think Bombay deeply affected everyone who went ashore that day. Everyone came back a little bit different, everyone had a story to tell in the crew bar that night. I don’t think many of us have ever seen such a degree of chaotic poverty.
That was the opinion of most. But perhaps, since I have seen Bombay before, it seemed quiet (on a Sunday) and quite well-off. Perhaps the shock value of it has worn off.

Of course, near the port gate you get harassed by millions of poor. It is a bit of a mafia racket, women holding babies, children holding babies, begging for coins. They know the right places to stand, and I am sure these women made quite a sum of money today. It is rumoured that they borrow the babies for this purpose. I have no idea. I am not saying that they’re well-off, just that there is something fishy going on here.

If you watch closely, the real poor are the ones the Indians will give to. For example, old ladies and men without limbs at traffic lights in random parts of the city. If you see your cab driver give 10c, you know it is a just cause. A friend of mine bought $60 worth of groceries for a whole family living on the street. They were all crying, apparently it was a very touching and humbling scene. The idea that with less than a day’s salary you could really affect some one’s well being, that is something pretty powerful.

On the way to see the big laundry, we saw some homes on the edge of the highway. At least these people have homes. I heard that 55% of people living in Bombay are homeless.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, we saw the gardens.
The day was hot. Close to 40 degrees, I am guessing. And as I always try and dress modestly (in places like these), I was sweltering in my long dress and button-up blouse.

Families were pick nicking in the shade

I always get a chuckle when trash cans are in the shape of animals. Put the garbage down the Penguin’s throat! Do you think the Penguin is a very exotic animal for them?

It is common to see men holding hands.

Like I said, the day was hot. Very hot. And what better thing to cool you down then..
No, not Ice Cream, guess again…

For 30c, you pick out a cool cucumber and the kid will peel it and quarter it for you, then add some salty orange spice.

I couldn’t think of anything nicer for such a hot day. And I don’t even like cucumbers normally!
But these were fat, pale and spike-less. Must have been a special variety.

A hat stand for kids was cute.. These people here at the park must have been middle class, ad doing okay for money.

Now, you all remember that our washing machines were out of order. And in such a hot climate, we were running out of clothes. Good thing the laundry mat had just opened, otherwise I would have joined this family with my washing at the river outfall.

I wanted to join them, in the heat of the day. But they didn’t notice me and my big camera.

Now, if you can afford it, you can spend the 30 rupees for your pants and shirt to be washed by a professional washing service. That’s only 75c.
Here it is, the laundry, now a big tourist attraction. I chose to go here instead of the Jane Temple, and snapped lots of pictures.

Except this time, I descended down the steps into the laundry, to see what was going on inside.
Apparently this was a brave maneuver, as many of my friends, big strong guys as they were, were afraid to go down there.

I saw a sidewalk barber shop on the street below

I followed these heavy loads of laundry, to find the entrance.

Off to the left, I found the laundry.

I saw a man having a bath, and buckets of dye. Do they dye your clothes brighter while washing them, I wondered.

Men were scrubbing shirts by hand. If you look closely it seems he has added some orange dye to the mix as well. Imagine your clothes coming back brighter!

The laundry was hanging to dry all over the place. In some parts (like in the first picture) you can see they put the whites way up high to be bleached by the sun.

A really cute kid refreshes himself with cold soapy water. He must be the cleanest kid on the block!

And finally, something to make you smile – have you ever seen a Cannonball Tree?

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3 Responses to >Bombay – the rich, the poor, and the washing

  1. Ginnie says:

    >My ex-husband was in Bombay years ago, Stacey, and can attest to everything you have written here about its poverty. I think everyone not used to it is profoundly affected by it.I really like the time and pics spent on the laundry. So educational.

  2. jessica says:

    >For us viewers, it’s really wonderful how up and close you get with the subject in the photos. But has that ever gotten you into trouble? Sometimes I am so afraid to take photos of people in their daily environment, and i don’t know why. i’m afraid they will scream at me i suppose.

  3. Goofball says:

    >When I was in Mumbai, I read about those Dhobi Ghats where the laundry gets done for much of the city. I didn’t get to see it though :(.I read that those dhobi’s have their own way of coding little (almost invisible) marks on the clothes to keep them all apart and to be able to return them to the correct owner/hotel/ …. Sometimes these marks help resolve crime investigations, so it stated in the book! I found that very interesting.

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