There is something soothing in the monotony, the white towels evenly draped in perfect alignment, one after the other, punctuated every so often by a dark blue hand towel or red washcloth. Big white bedsheets billow in the breeze, soaking up the smell of whatever sunshine filters through the Delhi pollution. These are the hidden dhobi ghats of Delhi. There are as many as 70 spread across the city, often tucked in the back lanes of well-known neighborhoods, sometimes along the banks of large curving sewer lines, rarely along the Yamuna river itself. Most of them were started in the 60s when the government allotted land specifically for this purpose. Families came from UP and surrounding areas, often 30-35 people per ghat with multiple families sharing the larger spaces, to live, sleep and eat with the city’s dirty laundry. Each ghat processes 40-50,000 pieces of laundry a day, in a four-step process: wash, rinse, spin, line dry – colors and whites separate. Then, after an afternoon rest, iron, fold, package and deliver all across the city to hotels, hair salons, private homes, and hospitals. The labour is intense – banging and scrubbing and hanging – and the pay is low. It’s not personal washing machines that will end their profession, but the dhobis themselves – they don’t want to see their children continue in this work. Pictured here are dhobi ghats in Nehru Nagar, Jangpura, Kalkaji, and Lodi Colony. Click to see photos.