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   For the last few days... (July 17, 1990)

For the last few days, you may have noticed, the National Front governmetn has been washing its dirty linen in public. In fact, the laundries have been overworked with washing.

I realised this when I went for my clothes to my laundry, Bommai Laundrers and Dyers, yesterday. Mr. Bommai's men were washing lines on the floor of the shop, on the pavement outside, all around the shop. Linen was hung up to dry on strings across the road.

"What's this," I asked, "washing dirty linen in public?"

"What to do," said Mr. Bommai, looking somewhat harassed, "the dhobi-ghat is full, there is no place to wash and dry left there, so I have to do it here, in public."

"I see," I said. "What about my laundry, is it ready?"

"You will have to excuse me," Mr. Bommai said. "I have had no time to get your clothes washed. These are all urgent and I have to finish them first. People who are giving me these dirty linen to wash, say that they must be washed immediately as their intire future depends on them."

"Strange," I said, "I never knew that your future depends on your dirty linen. Who are these people who are bringing in their dirty linen?"

"No, no, they are not bringing their own dirty linen, sorry, I don't think I have made myself understood. Each person brings another person's dirty linen, then the other person brings the first person's dirty linen. Not that if matters, whoever gets whoever's dirty linen, we get our money for washing it in public."

"That is another thing o want to know. Is it necessary to wash it in public, apart from consraints of space, I mean."

"Oh, yes, that is absolutely essential," Mr. Bommai said. "When they give in the dirty linen, they insist that it be washed in public, the more public the better. Now then, if you will just step this side, the TV cameramen are here to photograph the dirty linen and you are blocking their view."

"Oh, certainly," I said, moving aside. "Just tell me, when do you think my laundry will be ready. I don't have a clean shirt left to wear."

"I can't give you any definite date," said Mr. Bommai. "However, if you do not have a shirt to wear, I could giver you this kurta for the time being. Though it is a little large for you, it belongs to one Arun Nehru."

 
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