India’s glimpse into Europe’s past: the “Little France” of Mumbai


One reason I love India so much: India provides an amazing glimpse into the history of Europe.

Shown here are the Dhobi Ghats, or clothes washing area, of Mumbai. What 99.99% of most tourists don’t realize is that Europe had these places, too, and you can find a picture of one in my recent blog about Petite-France. Today, the washing area in Petite-France is covered in flowers and lined with street cafés; but a few hundred years ago, clothes were washed in segments along the river: the clothes for the rich people upstream, and the clothes for the lesser privileged downstream. So what you see above is likely much cleaner and nicer than what it would have looked like in France!

My biggest gripe: Europe evolved slowly, and these old places were slowly transformed and retained. In India as in the U.S., the high-speed of big urbanization means that interesting cultural places (such as the Dhobi Ghats) are often developed right out of existence.