Cloth collectors of Pune

In Bengaluru near my neighborhood, there is a man who operates out of a makeshift table made out of discarded construction material. He uses this table for ironing clothes. His clientele is mainly the residents in the “small”rises in the neighborhood. He collects clothes from our house during Saturdays. During the rest of the week, we go to him with our clothes. In the case of a township like sprawling apartment complexes, these men set their shop in the basement of one of the buildings. So is the case where my sister lives.

But, it is different in Pune. Although I lived in the city for an year, the memories are pleasant but distant. When I watched the whole process being played out in front my old apartment in Pune, I revisited the old memories. Here, you will neither see a makeshift table nor the person who iron the clothes. Instead, there are people who collect the clothes. They come in either a motorcycle or an auto rickshaw. They visit their the apartments, collect the bundles and load them on their mode of transport. Then, these are taken to a central location for ironing. Often, when this collector comes for the rounds, he carry bundles of finished work with him. The collector is also accessible on his mobile.

This system is also plagued with the universal bane. Sometime, you have lesser clothes when the bundle is returned. If you are lucky, you might get a replacement for the lost piece. The replacement depends on your luck. You might get a better piece in return!

But what amazes me was that their palm sized notebooks where they meticulously record the number of clothes and amount owed. For a casual observer, the pages are scribbled with numbers. But for the collector, it makes sense!

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Tags: Musings,Travel,Pune,Collector,Ironing,Cloth


  1. These people are like the dabba wallas of Bombay, seems to be very efficient.
    I remember many years ago, when we in Assam, there used to be a ironing fellow living with his family next to our house, and we used to sometimes give him clothes for ironing, till one day my mother saw the wife of this fellow wearing one of her blouses which my mother had given for ironing.
    From that day we decided to do our own ironing.I know that such things have been happening all the time, but to think that lady had the guts to wear one of our clothes right under our eyes.

  2. Like Rama comments, the systems of operations of these small guys is far superior to many 'organised' sectors.

  3. Such self employed men canset examples to management gurus.


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