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I Am…

Dhobi Madiwala
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Mittur seems unfazed when asked if he faces competition from local laundry companies. “I do and that affects me a bit, but it is not as though I don’t get customers.” Mittur never attended school. His father has been a dhobi for the last 10 years and Mittur learned the trade from him. “It’s been five years since I branched out on my own while earlier I used to assist my father, he taught me how to wash and iron clothes.”

Mittur’s day starts early. He washes clothes in the dhobi ghat, then travels from his home in Madiwala to Koramangala and irons clothes, smoothening out the creases in the clothes and then ironing them with precision, while he waits for his customers to take their clothes. Mittur speaks only Tamil and knows a smattering of Hindi and Kannada. “I am from Tamil Nadu,” he says, hesitant to reveal from which part of Tamil Nadu he hails from. “I chose to come to Bangalore because here I get to earn more. I don’t have the same prospects in Tamil Nadu. I get to earn well here. I earn about 400 or 500 rupees on a good day.”

What he misses most about Tamil Nadu is the food. “Yes,” he smiles, coyly. “I eat home cooked food, but the few times I eat out, I miss the food back home.”

He manages to sustain his family on his earnings, with a little help from his father, and sends his four children to school. “I want them to study,” he says, “I want them to get good jobs and not pursue this profession.” I ask what he does during his spare time, to which Mittur says: “I don’t get enough time to do anything else. I like washing clothes and ironing.” But when asked about his favourite Tamil film, he rattles off a number of names. His favourite hero is Rajnikanth. “I began liking him from this year,” he laughs and says. Bangalore has changed a lot since the 10 years he’s been here, Mittur admits. “There were fewer buildings, not too many people and more trees. Also the architecture of the houses I notice has changed.” Even though life is expensive in Bangalore, Mittur doesn’t mind. “It would. It’s a city of opportunities. At least I get to earn here more than I do back home.”

SRAVASTI DATTA

A weekly column on men and women who make Bangalore what it is

I eat home cooked food, but the few times I eat out, I miss the food back home

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