While in Mumbai, I also had an opportunity to visit Dhobi Ghat, the world’s largest outdoor laundry. It was very intriguing to watch the men as they worked in this outdoor laundry. As I scanned over the railway platform, I could see men beside concrete wash pens full of water flogging wet clothes over stones; literally beating the dirt out of each piece of clothing by hand. It reminded me so much of the times when I was young and would watch my granny outside, scrubbing clothes clean in a round tin tub using a washing board. All items that were washed in this outdoor laundry were later hung or laid on the roof tops to dry. As I continued to scan across Dhobi Ghat, I could see school uniforms and everyday clothing swinging on the lines to dry. The white shirts, towels and sheets were scrubbed white as snow as if brand new and had never been used or worn before.
I believe the most intriguing thing about Dhobi Ghat is that they service the residential homes, hotels and hospitals of Mumbai. They can come to your home or place of business and pick up your dirty laundry and delivery it to you once its complete. I was told they never mix up an order as well, how remarkable is that? As more and more people in Mumbai are purchasing washing machines and choosing to do their laundry at home, these men have seen a decrease in their business. However, it hasn’t stopped their dedication and they take pride in offering this service to the people of Mumbai. It is a family owned business and the goal is to pass this art and business on to their children. I think that’s an admirable thing.
The Taj Mahal
The second part of my trip began with a flight to Delhi and a four-hour drive to see the long-awaited Taj Mahal. First, let me say that in living abroad, I spend a considerable amount of time in airports. I can truly say that the airport in Mumbai has some of the best artwork I have seen thus far (see pics below). As I traveled through the airport I was so excited to see a Burger King and a Pizza Hut, but the excitement quickly faded when I realized that neither served beef. Yep, you heard me right…No Beef! As 67% of the people living in Mumbai are Hindu, beef is not an option that is readily available. Therefore, I opted for chicken Tikka and garlic naan instead and on my way back a Mutton burger. After my lunch settled, I decided on a relaxing head and foot massage while I waited for my flight to Delhi to depart.
Once I landed in Delhi, Rahil arranged for a driver to pick me up from the airport who also drove me to my hotel in Agra. The drive to Agra was beautiful. It reminded me so much of my hometown in the US. As we drove, I could see fields for miles, just open country as we rode the highway, away from the hustle and bustle. As the sun began to set, so did my eyes and before I knew it, I woke up and had made it to my hotel. The next day, my driver purchased my tickets, gave me my shoe covers and I boarded a golf cart that brought me to the Taj Mahal.
To help preserve the site, only battery-operated vehicles can be within close proximity to the site of the Taj Mahal. Some people walk from their hotels, some take a horse ride, and others use the battery-operated shuttles or golf carts that went back and forth. As I entered the gate to the site I was so elated that I had finally made it and was filled with anticipation. However, nothing could prepare me for what I saw as I entered through the entry way and got my first glimpse of the Taj Mahal. I was in complete awe of the beauty of it. As I put on my shoe covers to begin to explore the inside of this masterpiece, I couldn’t help but think about how long it took to build this mausoleum (approximately 20 years) and about the hands that had created such beautiful work. By the way, it is rumored that some of the architects were killed or had their hands severed off so they could never duplicate it anything like it ever again.
After taking my pictures of the Taj Mahal and with a few people who I didn’t even know LOL (this happens when I travel abroad from time to time as a Black American) I shared a bench in front of the Taj Mahal for about an hour with a young lady who was a solo traveler (Anna). As I sat in front of the Taj Mahal, I took the time to truly reflect on my trip to India and the beauty of the art that sat in front of me.
What I appreciated most about my trip to India is this: A little brown girl from John’s Island, South Carolina turned what she saw on a page in a history book into her reality. I made it to India!