Most of my life’s experiences are related to the routine life of fast paced commercial capital, Mumbai. I love crowd and people with different level of understandings and views. As I travel in train almost every day, since so many years I have also been observing the never changed scenario of Mumbai’s most attractive (?) sites, which is evergreen. And that is, the public laundry next to Mahalaxmi station lovingly called – Dhobhi Ghat. It is not a huge, grand structure made by any ancient king or reputed business man of modern day, it’s a simple structure built for washing clothes. The clothes are brought there from all over Mumbai. I am always amused by the thought of how well managed, time- precise and logistically organized work process it carries out. It’s organizational set-up is nothing less than the curriculum learnt at thereputed management institutes. Only differences between white collared jobs at management level and this age old attraction is the outer appearance and educational degree, else the aim of profession for both is- Perfection.
This Dhobi Ghat has become a kind of institute for me. I have learnt truths, pondered upon many economical, social and political issues. And I find, that up till now all the researches and analysis have failed terribly in each field due to one reason or the other. The state of India and world is just like the bundle of clothes that are brought at this Ghat. Every bundle has an identity of the agent or the main laundry from where it is brought here. But when opened and left scattered all the clothes and lining are dirty and crumpled which have to be laundered to look clean and be ready for use again. For this process a dhobi or a washer man doesn’t need a degree or big fat books to update his knowledge; everyday practice and sound knowledge of colors, clothes and their longitivity guides him to handle each of them carefully. That's great! It’s metaphoric representation of today’s society.
Whatever is the fact, this Dhobhi Ghat has not changed its value and still it works on the principle of ‘neat, clean and tidy’, with no Daag ever seen.
So in this world where stains are good(?) Is there any one to play the role of washer man to clean our souls? We all are waiting for the Godot and hope he comes.
I want to preserve and make this site know to people from every nook and corner of the world. This is my heartfelt attempt. I have given a real look into this maze where a novel ought to get confused and missing. My artworks are the actual photography of the site, washer men and thework process. The water outlets and inlets work as energy to revitalize the shine of clothes which can also mean that there should be some system in our society which would drain off evils and bring in purity and goodness of thoughts and actions. And this is not limited to any particular strata of the society but to every Indian citizen.
I wish to make this place and the artisans here immortal. Like the washer men who clean the clothes, let our souls be cleansed too. As they handle each cloth without biased thoughts, so be our political theory be- equal justice to all. There is some power in their skill that people prefer to wash their dirty lining here than washing it in machines. Doesn’t this subtly mean cleansing society and self in most natural way? Hmm, a point to think over. Plans are on to make Mumbai a glittering city. So before this simple yet highly metaphorical site gets ruined or refurbished I have captured its originality and its very soul of dignified presence in this city of joy and progress.
Most of my artwork is the four dimension extension of a digital photography. The bright colors are omnipresent along with pure white color on clothesline, well arranged to dry the clothes. The gushing water, slogging washer men, heap of dirty and clean clothes together represent a mini image of a society that we live in.
This unusual place of muse speaks volumes about society itself right from ancient times to modern day. In brief, washer men for dirty linings…anyone to cleanse the soul? This placid place with bustling activities and philosophical values be with us forever- Pankaja JK
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