"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

Dhobi Days..

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.

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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.


6 responses

  1. Jolyon

    Probably a ridiculous suggestion, but have you considered a washing machine?

    October 28, 2010 at 12:58 am

    • “..It is the duty of the wealthy man.

      To give employment to the artisan.” Hilaire Belloc, I believe!

      October 28, 2010 at 12:21 pm

  2. It’s nice to know there is a part of the world where there is still a bit of decorum and modesty.

    October 28, 2010 at 10:29 am

    • Whilst having my used underwear shaken out and counted, in front of the entire household, I could go along with those sentiments.

      October 28, 2010 at 12:28 pm

  3. Lucille

    Dhobi dhobi doo.

    October 28, 2010 at 11:37 am

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