The Iron in town !!

Of the many businesses that you see on wheels, here is one that i don’t get to see that very often in Mumbai ! Wearing pressed clothes is indeed a pressing requirement ! And how about a ‘presser’ on wheels !

In the southern districts we have this push cart iron. The chap who ‘irons’ , ushers his cart around and presses your clothes for a fee ! A common sight in Madurai ! Its not common in the big cities where electricity rules and ‘powered’ irons press !

So, theres this chap who comes home pushing his cart around. He carries with him a simple soul. And will charge your a rupee to press shirt. Perhaps two. And he has a cart which consists of a ‘bed’, a solid stone slab for keeping this solid brass iron and a slot for storing his coal !

And Yes. He uses coal !

Now that’s some heavy duty metal ! It indeed is heavy ! The chamber that houses burning embers of coal sometimes look downright scary. With a feisty burning crimson ! And when he presses your shirt, with the might of this muscle, the crimson coal and the hardened metal, you can almost hear your shirt squirm !

Call me old fashioned. Call me backward. But, there is a certain charm in this cart. And in the iron. The iron that houses the crimson coal that can kill either with the heat or with the weight ! And of course, the lazy elegance of his pressing of clothes. A ‘lazy nonchalant elegance’ that would get David Gower some company.

It may be a common sight down there! And it indeed is something to experience. To just stand there and see your shirt pressed with a rather different energy !

A charm that resembles a old world locomotive that is gushing into a station ! Perhaps its to do with the coal. Perhaps its got to do with the heat. Perhaps it is do with the steady solid style.

Or just perhaps, its the nostalgia of the old times. Or of another place.

Where ‘pressing’ gets a languid tone.

20 thoughts on “The Iron in town !!

  1. Be it any city Delhi, banglore, etc. survival without them is tough, best part is affordability:)
    putting current rate list, will be great add on…. i mean innovation for recession.

  2. G says:

    Wow! Wonderful idea. Maybe I should arrange for this iron-on-wheels guy to come to my doorstep every morning. That will save me so much of hassle! 🙂
    Btw, I recently went out to buy an iron. Given so many functions/features I got so confused that I called up my sister to ask for an opinion. She simply said – Don’t fall for the features. Just go for something heavy, so that u don’t end up with an aching arm after you have ironed your clothes.
    Guess Morphy Richards and the likes should take a lesson from this roadside iron cart guy!

  3. ♥ Braja says:

    I will definitely go on a tour of Mumbai with you, Kavi :)))

  4. Jeevan says:

    They are gifted to women to iron there silk saris which never get washed! I used to stare at times when they sprinkle some water to iron and see how sooner it dries. well capture kavi! 🙂

  5. Swatantra says:

    Cute!! I liked the design of base.. i was just wondering why he has not made it plain.. just a thought!!

  6. amreekandesi says:

    I have seen these irons…but never came upon a mobile press wala, like those ubiquitous sabzi walas!

    This is certainly an interesting idea. I find my shirt has some extra creases; i just take off the shirt and in a few minutes i have a hot shiny unwrinkled shirt. Pants might be a bit more complicated though!

  7. I’m so glad to see this… yes, it’s always a pleasure to see these antiquities in work… you’re right abt the energy…It’s different, kudos.:)

  8. SSQuo says:

    We used to give many items to be ironed, and sometimes if I had to go pick something up for Dad perhaps, I’d wait and watch as they did their quick moves. I loved seeing the crumpled shirt become the perfect slate in one slide of the hot coals. It was just awesome.

    I never ever saw an ironer-on-the-go! Its super cool, and such a unique concept – it shows the true essence of innovation and differentiation!

  9. sob! What I wouldn’t do for one of those now!!

  10. good everyday series sir. after a long long while, i got to see the coal irons in chennai and also madurai. was a very nostalgic trip, the last time ive seen it been used live was 25 years ago!!!

  11. Suma says:

    you know, i used to get my clothes ironed by the neighborhood presswala…with the coals et al…and here i have to do it myself!

    thanks to blogging and you, the humble presswalah has got his due 🙂 and hey, that rhymed!

  12. Sujatha says:

    The couple who have taken up residence in the empty plot next to my parents’ house now line each dress item with newspaper. The freshly pressed clothes makes a nice crinkly sound.

    Love the iron box specimen you found.

  13. I’ve seen some of these operating under staircasesof large housing set ups in Girgaum etc. I am just wondering if its time for someone to come up with a cycle based collapsible ironing base, which will enable a chap to cycle around localities, iron stuff, and maximise his income. (For a system that already has a cycle based kitchen that makes instant dosas from a big steel tin of batter and serves the folks, this should be elementary)…

    I look forward to sighting such chaps from my balcony, and rushing down with stuff for ironing….he can even sell us decoction kapi while we wait….the possibilities are endless…..:-)

  14. two years ago when I visited my parents, gave a bunch of clothes to the local iron guy.. needed it that same evening because we had to return that night to the US.

    asked him “night kulla thandhuduveenga ille?” and he said

    “here is my card with my cell phone.. call me at 5:00 just to remind me. will come and give it. if not, pick it up if you come by that street around that time”..

    expect that in five more years, he will give me a gps tracking ID on his business card alao. you enter Anand Iron, Adyar and you can see his iron vandi’s location on your iphone and go get your clothes..


    they are all going high tech Kavi!

    the world is changing.

  15. manju says:

    I have never seen an iron on a cart, Kavi! Is it a common sight in Madurai? Do customers stand at the side of the cart till he finishes pressing their clothes?

  16. We used to have a couple of mobile iron-men near our Kolkata home, who indulged in “competitive pricing”.

    But here in Mumbai, the motorcycle-iron-wallah knocks at the door, collects the stuff, zooms mysteriously off and comes back and hands over the ironed clothes with a genie-like flourish. Technology-cum-magic?

  17. nsiyer says:

    I remember when I was in Cuddalore, saw this in every street corner. Yes, you can have holes on your shirts/ trousers because of the crimson red coal.

  18. SGD says:

    Our watchman doubles up as a ‘iron-man’ and uses a similar gadget!!
    Life is indeed blissful with them around, for cotton wearers like me!!

  19. Nothing irons as well as these things, really.

  20. Kavi says:

    Ujjwal : Yes..the big one is on affordability ! you can press your shirt and walk away. Almost for free. That small fee is almost free !!


    G : and imagine such people exist. And such is mainstream part of life in some part of the same country !!

    Ofcourse, Murphy Richards should learn. And the lessons are not far away ! Right next door in a push cart !!


    Jeevan : Thank you ! I am sure you are used to such people often in Chennai !! 🙂

    Swatantra : maybe thats the way it is…a simple plain stuff


    Amreekandesi : LOL. Pants indeed would be a COMPLICATION !!! Indeed !!


    Naperville Mom : Antiques that are very much part of mainstream use is something that catches the eye and tugs the heart. THis is one such !! 🙂

    Thank you !

    SSQuo : Iron on the go !! Well, that was one heck of positioning !! Maybe they should pay you royalty for that !!

    Ironer on the go !!

    Roshini : 😉

    GP : What was 25 years back…is still very much spoken in present tense here !! So much for nostalgia !!

    How have you been!?!? Its been some time !

    Suma : Ofcourse ! That rhymed. And well too !! Must be some music for his ears !!

    Sujata: And getting a newspaper inbetween clothes is kind of deriguer with these people. They have one request though : Please carry your own newspaper !

    UgichKonitari : Phew ! What imagination. What imagination. And what customer delight would it be if that decoction coffee is served alongside !!

    I am already thinking of talking to the ‘iron man’ !

    Sundar : Yeah ! I can see that happen..! With a GPRS connection..will it happen one day that they will do the ironing also by remote sensing ! Possible.

    Yes sundar. The world is indeed changing.

    manju : Yes. This is common. And people usually give clothes and move and come back in sometime to collect it ! Somehow, that level of trust is indeed there !

    Sucharita : Competitive pricing ! Phew ! And this motorcycle wallah…has he ever been spotted wearing a shirt that just resembles your husbands..just a abit..?

    NS IYer : Yes sir ! I completely missed the holes ! They are present as well !!

    SGD : That was the case at our home in Bangalore too ! It did pose some problems. But overall, neat package

    Aanandthirtyeights : Welcome here !! And yes..nothing irons like these! Perhaps nobody does too !

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