By now, my readers are familiar with the adjective ‘wallah’, which Indians attach to a person or a trade or whatever. For instance, I am known as the Dhaadiwallah, to indicate that I wear a beard, dhaadi in all Indian languages being beard.
Presswallah is a fellow who presses clothes. Or rather one can call him Ironwallah too, but for some strange reason, Indians prefer to call him the former rather than the later, possibly because, iron would also indicate the metal.
The Presswallah in cities is ubiquitous and many two income households will come to a standstill without his services. His collection and delivery is meticulous and rarely does he lose a garment entrusted to him for pressing. He could be a daily visitor to one’s home to deliver the previous day’s washed clothes and collect the fresh ones for pressing, or like in my home, a twice or three times a week visitor.
Unlike the Pheriwallahs who deal only in cash the Presswallahs accounts are settled once a month, at least by me. A book is maintained and everyday’s delivered goods are ticked off and tallied at the end of the month and the accounts settled.
This is Raju, our Presswallah. He is part of a family of Presswallahs, of the Dhobi caste. Raju and his cousins, have all come to Pune from a town in Andhra Pradesh. They live in a small cluster of houses about three Kms from our home. All of them have got their wives and children living here and the children go to local schools. They speak Telugu with which I am quite conversant and we get along very well.
Raju has recently been to Tirupathi and had offered his hair to the presiding Deity there.
For those people who cannot wait till the Presswallah comes to collect their clothes, Press booths, too extend the service and here is one, very near our home. The top shot shows the booth and the bottom the presswallah inside. Clothes given in the morning can be collected in the evening and office goers do exactly that. The bundles that you see all over the place are individual bundles left by various office goers on their way to work.
You will also notice that the booth is smack dab on the footpath! No one minds and pedestrians just walk on the road. A notable feature of our Indian city roads.
You can also find mobile presswallahs who take the charcoal fired brass iron to various homes and press clothes at the doorsteps. Here too the service is strictly on a cash down basis.
We also have laundry/dry cleaner services who will collect and deliver at home.