Mumbai Diary, Opinions

Washing Dirty Linen in Private


Nappies & More

The strangest things are often a catalyst for change. I would have never imagined that washing two dozen nappies every day would change the way my house was run. 

When Anna Shetty was born my mother gifted me with a washing machine. In those days washing machines were almost unknown in the Indian market and Hubby dear thought it a complete indulgence.
“What will the Bai do?” he asked. That was in the days when we had three live in servants, one exclusively for the children, one only for the kitchen and one just floating around. We also had a driver who did odds and ends apart from driving the car, a dhobi who took the clothes for ironing, a grocer who home delivered the food, a meat man who brought the meat to the door and even a fruitwalla who delivered at home. So in a way Hubby Dear  was not wrong in deeming the washing machine superfluous. But mothers being mothers have other ideas and since Anna Shetty was born in the monsoons in the days of cotton nappies, my mother had visions of me drowning in copious quantities of white cloth nappies and thought that a washing machine was the best option for whiter than white and cleaner than clean nappies ergo a baby who slept peacefully without fear of nappy rash.

Since that day, the washing machine has been an integral part of my house, which is why when we outgrew the nappies and around ten years later, we just had to buy another machine to replace the trusty twin tub Sharp that had seen the girls grow out of primary school. I loved my first washing  machine which had a nice comforting hum to it as it buzzed through the spin dry cycle leaving my clothes clean and soft and felt quite intimidated by the thought of replacing it especially since by this time, washing machines had invaded Indian homes. With help to wash clothes  getting rare, there was an initial demand for a washing machine but the choice was still limited when  I went to the market and bought a Front loading IFB T 2900 DX –  very basic and good. The after sales service was impeccable and my clothes came out whiter than white for over 15 years , with the machine being run for as much as three wash loads a day! But that was when the children were home and our house was filled with guests and we entertained on a regular basis.

For the past four years though, I felt I needed to upgrade my machine especially since the breakdowns became more frequent and more major. However, every time I wanted to buy a new one,  I would fall for the argument put forth by the service engineer who came to repair the fault that my machine was really very good and that the new ones were flimsy. I bought this story for a while, albeit reluctantly  especially since the last time , when I had to shell out a good Rs.6000 for repairs. Finally, when the same part which was replaced broke down last week ( within only 3 months  of fixing it) I thought enough was really enough. It also dawned on me that I had been made a sucker by going in for the Annual Maintenance Contract for over 10 years, which meant that I had literally paid for a new machine over time!

Buying online?

Being completely hooked on to the net ( another life changing intervention) , I decided to surf around for a good buy. I had heard that Flipkart was a great way to shop and that one of the advantages of buying online was getting a substantial discount. But Hubby Dear being still very traditional wanted to actually see what he was getting so after an extensive research on the net, we went to Croma  at Phoenix Mills to make our purchase.

Which machine to buy? 

Sometimes a lack of choice is a good thing because the only options available are This Or Nothing. Fortunately or unfortunately ( depending on which way you see it) the markets today are flooded with a variety of options. But also fortunately, the options are often narrowed down by personal likes and dislikes.

Front or Top Loading? 

For someone like me who finds most machines over half my height, the top loading is not a great option – I am almost in the machine myself when I am pulling out the last garment.

Single tub or twin?

You just can’t beat the convenience of a single tub : it completely eliminates one task of loading the wet clothes into the spin dryer so why go in for a twin tub?

The size?

The capacity of the washing machine is determined by the wash load – a regular family of four can easily manage with 6-7 kg. but for those with large families even an 8 kg capacity is not enough. Those who like segregating washes will find a 5 kg one perfect to run three different wash loads a day.

The Brand?

Now this is the most important aspect of selecting a washing machine. With so many new companies with new products with fancy features this becomes a major task more so since our  dealers do not allow a demonstration. We have no option but to rely on the sales person who very often are quite ignorant of the actual operation of the machine and largely rely on their wits to answer queries. But we have quite a simplified system – Anything that is manufactured in China is automatically out as is anything manufactured in North India. So this automatically eliminated Haier and Whirlpool and Electrolux. Anything manufactured by Videocon and Godrej (we had an awful experience with a Godrej refrigerator once – something that scarred us for life!) so that left us with Samsung, Bosch, Siemens or IFB.

I was pretty keen on the Bosch but since the price difference between Siemens was only one rupee and going by the salesman’s advice that Bosch is serviced by Siemens, we went in for a Siemens. I didn’t go back to IFB because the service engineers swore that the newer models were not a patch on the old ones.

The Dealer?

This is a very important consideration. I have had a pretty bad experience with Vijay Sales one of the leading  distributors of domestic appliances in Mumbai who gypped me with a bad  DVD when it was new to the market . So now we go to Croma which has a strong comfort feel.

The Cost?

The cost doesn’t really matter because you obviously will cut your coat according to your cloth.


Caveat Emptor

As with all purchases, the buyer has to be truly aware of what he is going in for. The Annual Maintenance Contract of every company is the biggest scam on this planet. No engineers come every quarter to service the machine – they only call when it is time to renew the contract. No parts are truly within guarantee- the part that you need is always the one that is not covered by the guarantee. There is a subtle difference between a Warranty and a Guarantee  but that doesn’t really matter because whatever it is, it is never the fault of the manufacturer. 

Lastly never go by the advice of a service engineer who comes to repair your machine – He has hardly seen the front door of a trade school and is only as competent as his polyester trousers: flimsy and transient.

Author: Unishta

A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!

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