Tag Archives: Departure

Dhobi Ghat- A Cinematic Slice of Mumbai Life

Mumbai’s Dhobi Ghat

By Siddhi: 

Reactions to my odd and obsessive desire to visit Mumbai’s open air laundromat Dhobi Ghat was summarized well by my taxi driver from Jharkand, who, unaware that I could fully understand Hindi, told my mom: “She must be a foreigner if she came all the way here to see the dhobis wash clothes.”

Admittedly, the only reason I knew about Dhobi Ghat was because of the titular 2010 film by Kiran Rao, wife of the major Bollywood contemporary filmmaker Aamir Khan.The movie popularized a place that would have otherwise remained a modest and publicly unnoteworthy element of day-to-day Mumbai life. Everyday, hundreds of washers known as Dhobis in Hindi gather at the concrete squares near the city’s Mahalaxmi Railway Station and perform the generational task of hand washing clothes underneath the open Mumbai skies. Rao’s movie exposed the raw humanity of an often-ignored slice of life in one of the world’s most significant cosmopolitan hubs. And I wanted nothing more in India than to see the place with my own two eyes.

After a few laughs and subtle yet unsuccessful efforts to dissuade me from “wasting” my time on something so commonplace and unremarkable with an afternoon’s itinerary of big name tourist attractions ahead, I found myself at what I consider one of the most cinematic and truthful places in all of the Mumbai I’ve seen.

The zigzags of clothes hanging indifferently on parallel lines patterned the invisible open air ceiling of Dhobi Ghat with visual intrigue. As an aspiring documentarian and travel photographer, the presence of lines and layers in new and engaging social climates fill me with adrenaline unlike any other. Colors, movement, and a spirit of basic livelihood characteristic of Mumbai and Mumbai only.

What enraptured me the most was the motion of the Dhobis. Although most of the workers had dwindled under the looming thunderclouds, a sign of withdrawal from the outdoors for anyone fearing the mighty Mumbai monsoons, the few that remained performed strange beauty with their synchronized and then unsynchronized motions. Up, down, shake. Up, down, shake. There was grace in the cautiously casual arcing of their hands bringing clothes into the moist air and then down hard onto the stone. Humility, pride, life.

I begged and threw a bit of a tantrum to sell my case on how passionately I wanted to climb down into heart of action. But because Dhobi Ghat is circled by slums, it’s both dangerous and disrespectful to photograph without permission or some sort of structured approach. Though disappointed, I know that next time in Mumbai, seeing more of a place pouring with honest life will be a top priority.

If you find yourself near the Malaxmi Station in Mumbai with a few minutes to spare, visit Dhobi Ghat. It’s really a memorable and culturally standout experience.

Art Lessons at the La Jolla Athenauem – A Lovely Summer Getaway

Athenaeum Art Gallery
Source: La Jolla Athenaeum Website

By Lakshmi:

Who?  Whether you are a professional artist or a wannabe dreamer like me, you can build a lot of artistic skills, from the basic to the advanced.

What? The La Jolla Athenaeum’s School of the Arts is located at 

1008 Wall Street
La Jolla, CA 92037-4418

Phone: 858 454 5872

How? Throughout the year, this school offers a plethora of classes to cater to every skill level.  Their philosophy…. “No matter what your age or the level of your skills, we welcome you and have the right class for you. ”

Why?  Every summer, I have a quandry….how do I keep my kids occupied and yet foster their learning?  And I was honestly getting a little jealous and frustrated that my kids got to explore so many creative angles while all I got to do was hear about their day, admire their work, and stay working in my office.

So, for one summer, I decided I was going to do things differently.  I enrolled both my kids for week-long summer programs at the University of California in San Diego and decided that I was going to study printmaking at the Athenauem.   From the moment I got the catalog to the time I showed up in class, I was like a little kid brimming with excitement.

That excitement came to a screeching halt when I came to class and realized that I was going to be surrounded by artists for a week, people who knew to paint, had exhibits, made prints and sold them… and here was little wannabe me….Well, I had two choices.  I could either feel inferior or just say I was going to make a fool of myself without caring.  I chose the latter and for the next week had a blast.  From selecting colors that worked, to applying the right amount of pressure, to creating texture, we worked all day on making prints.  At lunch, I would wander off and explore a new cafe, grabbing my lunch, sitting by the ocean, feeling just so grateful for this escape and then returning to class to get my hands dirty all over again.  Interestingly, since I was new to the medium, everyone in class wanted to help out.  I would walk around and admire the mosaic-like intricate patterns created by my classmates and go back and create my own version.  A few days into it, when someone complimented me on a creation of concentric circles in shades of blue, purple and black, I felt my inner artist surging with pride.

The week was so enriching, enabling me to explore a part of my brain that had not been tapped into for a while.  I emerged from the class with over a dozen ready to frame pieces and more importantly a can do attitude that given time, I could master an art form as well.

I am sitting now on my couch looking longingly at their summer catalog, wishing I could scrape the time to go back.

If you are looking for a break with some learning, you could not find a more picturesque locale than the lovely town of La Jolla, California.

You can learn more about Athenaeum’s summer classes at