A couple of weeks ago, Rittu, Ken and I went to visit Mumbai’s famed Dhobi Ghat. This is one of the major centers where laundry is done in Mumbai, and the largest operation of its kind in the world. It is partially run as a kind of collective, and we met a nice fellow at the entrance who charged us a fee (saying it would go to benefit the collective, who knows) and then guided us around for an in-depth tour. He showed us the concrete tubs where hand washing is done (and told us a little bit about how the machines are replacing/displacing the hand washers because they are faster), then took us through a number alleyways hung with colorful and matched washing. He told us about the kinds of work they do for hospitals and first washing of clothes for export when they come out of factories. The place is an amazing labyrinth, pretty fascinating, and well worth a trip when you are in Mumbai.
[pe2-gallery album=”http://picasaweb.google.com/data/feed/base/user/106877597387901949263/albumid/6107721650227956433?alt=rss&hl=en_US&kind=photo” ]
Josh and I boarded an early morning intercity train from Stockholm to Oslo, arriving here some 6 hours later. The train had some climate control issues, and we were pretty sweaty by the time we arrived. Add to that that it was raining when we got here and had to make our way to our slightly hidden hotel. Once checked in, we realized we had no choice but to do laundry today, so made our way here to Cafe Laundromat, as it had been recommended to us by a couple of people. There was no price listing on their website, but since we really had no choice at this point, we came anyway. We felt like aliens arriving here, because it is really more of a bar that happens to have a few washing machines, which was lucky for us, because all of them (4) were free. We shoved our combined laundry into 2 loads for the not (at this point) unreasonable cost of about 14 dollars. But the 2 beers we had to buy to get change for the machines cost 25 dollars together, making them the most expensive beers of my life. They are tasty though.
UPDATE: I was wrong about the cost of laundry, apparently the dryer costs more the more heat you need. So ultimately, laundry will end up being around $35 in addition to the beer.
UPDATE 2: Europeans always seem to have trouble with technology that Americans take for granted, like mixing hot and cold water properly for a shower or drying clothes. They tend to hang dry, which is great when one has the time, but when one doesn’t it would be nice if they had a dryer that could get the job done in 30-45 minutes like we do. We are up to 2 full hours of drying at a total laundry cost of $48. Ugh.
…dont. Just bring enough so that you don’t have to. This city is in no way set up for you to do your laundry American style, in a laundromat or self-service type operation. There is ONE place in all of Stockholm that allows this, and seeing from their website that they were not terribly far away from our hotel, Josh and I set out to do our laundry there. Alas, in contradiction to their very own website, they were closed until Monday (for the holiday and weekend). Next, after trucking back with our bags of dirty laundry to the hotel, we asked them where we might do our laundry (by the pound not the piece, and wash/fold not dry clean) and we were directed to a place down the road to a crazy old man who spoke no English, but managed to get across the point to us that it would cost over 5 dollars a pound. We selected a few choice items we had to clean, and then he informed us (by pointing to a day on a calendar) that we could have it back next Tuesday, after we had already left Stockholm. We left, and increasingly frustrated, went to a larger place close-by helpfully pointed out by a local on the street. There was one price for a small bag of laundry (about $66) , but we were getting desperate and agreed to it. Unfortunately, she actually started laughing out loud when we mentioned that we needed it by next Monday. Josh and I have decided to move to Sweden and open a laundromat and quick cleaners, as there is clearly a huge need here. I ended up doing a few pairs of underwear and a couple of T-shirts in the tiny hotel sink.