Although I've heard tell of how crowded the 'Dobby kana' at Chetpet used to be, I never had a chance to see it. For the Chetpet laundry had shut down even by the early '70s and today, even the bus-stop is called something else. Even the recent movie 'Madrasapattinam', with its washerman hero, seems to be set in the dhobi ghat of Guindy, rather than Chetpet. Even that has disappeared, now.
The last outpost of the Madras washerman seems to be this enclosed area at Pallavaram. I was told that the mornings are when it is a buzz of activity, with the wet clothes swishing through the air in arcs to have the dirt beaten out of them, wrung and then hung out to dry. In the evening, it is almost completely deserted; looks like the few people inside are those washing their own clothes!