The washing machine has been expiring for several years now. Every time it tries to die, someone in the house fixes it so that it groans and sways through a few more rinses. I will not say who this person is, in order to safeguard his/her identity from the vulgar gaze of the world. It’s not me, though, and we don’t allow our guests or domestic help to tinker with our heirloom gadgets. That really only leaves one person. Still: his/her identity is safe with me and I will refer to him/her only as The Fixer.
It’s been some years since the company that produced the machine closed down. So no spare parts. We normally keep the lid off the machine, with its internal organs exposed to view. It lives in the kitchen, looking like a piece of installation art and dutifully grinds away at our clothes.
Last month, during its spin cycle, it began to make a noise louder than a cement-mixer and screaming baby combined. "Ah—the bearings," said The Fixer, preparing the machine for major surgery. But the dear old thing died on the table. Briefly we considered buying a new one. Salesmen kept offering Rs 26,000 computerised models which would cook dinner and surf the Internet. Too smart for us, we decided.
So for a month and a half, the old contraption was taken apart and spread evenly throughout the house. Wiring in my room, drums and outer casing in the living room, nuts and washers in all three bathrooms, gasket in the bedroom. It was cleaned, repainted, re-greased and given the kiss-of-life this week. Fill, tumble, rinse—yay! It works! Okay, so it floods the kitchen, doesn’t stop automatically and squeaks. But for Rs 2,000? Come on. It’s a steal.
This article originally appeared in Delhi City Limits, March15, 2006