My dhobi visits unannounced, about twice a week. This always entails a short but tightly scripted ritual.
The dhobi returns a pile of newly washed, ironed and neatly folded clothes and linen, which he places on an armchair.
A basket containing my dirty washing is fetched from beneath my bed by Anu, my house-boy, who makes a quick dash around the house, collecting any other out-lying towels, sheets and linen.
All of my dirty laundry is brought down to the hall. It is then publicly shaken out and counted in front of Shaji and Dalila (the husband and wife, cooking and house-keeping team, who look after me), Anu and myself, before being packed away in a large cloth.
Having been informed how much I owe, I pass the money to Shaji.
He, in turn, solemnly pays the dhobi, who bicycles away with my dirty washing.
Following the dhobi’s departure, my house staff respectfully retire to the kitchen, allowing “Sir” to discretely remove his now pristine underwear from the pile. Only then, can they put away the bed linen, towels – and the rest of my clothing.
Modesty and decorum, of sorts, have been preserved.