Grumpy gadgets etc…..

This is the mother of all guest posts – by the one and only Purba Ray! She is one of the few bloggers I am addicted to. And I am sure there are thousands of addicts like me out there.  Her acerbic prose is sheer delight to read and most posts draw out chuckles and guffaws by the dozen. When they don’t, it is not because they are not good, but because their tone makes one think, analyse or rage at the system or the state of affairs she is talking about. As she confesses, she loves ‘poking fun at everything, especially herself.’ Whether A-musing or serious, her blogposts make my day. Read about her travails with gadgets….

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Once upon a time people bought gadgets that lasted them a lifetime, well almost. Refrigerators, television sets, we almost grew up with them. They did retire, hurt, once in a while but after a brief hospitalisation would resume duty without a murmur of protest.

Our first family car was a second hand, sky blue, Premier Padmini. It was tantrumy, would start at will and stop without warning causing distress, embarrassment and traffic jams. We had many a good Samaritan coming to our rescue, helping us out of sticky situations. Those days Delhi still had some nice people. When we finally sold it off, my Maa actually mourned for it. She loves mourning, animate inanimate notwithstanding.

Our first colour television, a Sony, lasted almost 25 years. Its images had become blurry, the controls cranky, but my parents refused to let go of it. They now have a 53 inch monster which conks off with alarming regularity.

Now that I have a household of my own to run, the gadgets have multiplied, look fancier, have mind boggling functions and come in daring colours. I can remove lint in a jiffy, colour my whites a ghastly orange in the washing machine and place my cup of tea on the warmer lest it get cold. I get cooled, warmed, entertained at the click of a button. But the life time bond is a thing of the past.

The Ray household does not acquire gadgets in haste. We follow a specific order. It starts with a thought. Yes, we need to upgrade our music system. Once the thought has germinated we nurture it. Sometimes we mull over it for over a year. The husband researches, compares and researches some more. We finally settle down for a state of the art music system. But the pleasure doesn’t even last a season. Within months a sleeker model with never-before-seen features makes a glitzy splash in the market, making our existing one look redundant. We start pondering again.

And God forbid if any appliance conks off.

I have been residing in Gurgaon for the last six years. And many errant appliances later, I can say with conviction that the millennium city has by far the worst technicians this side of the equator. But, the eternal optimist I am, I seldom learn from my past mistakes. I am always in the fond hope of an experience that will not be traumatic and have me close to a nervous breakdown. Every time it is the same sob story: a breakdown, frantic calls to the service centre, the reassurance that things will be taken care of in a jiffy (I wish they wouldn’t say that). It takes half a dozen trips by the technician, two dozen calls in varying decibel levels, threats, arguments, to finally get things back on track. By the end of it I have a hoarse throat and Rathore, Salim and Pandey jee in my speed dial list. Each ordeal later I sit and wonder, wouldn’t things have been much simpler if we had just dumped the damn thing and bought a newer model!

Ironically life is not meant to be simple, it gets insipid otherwise. We thrive on ordeals and challenges, we crib and we cope. The spice came from unexpected quarters this time. My otherwise well behaved washing machine conked off after managing eight years of glitch free service. One freezing wintry morning, it let out a series of alarms and the heating function stopped working. Since it didn’t appear to be a major fault I decided to call the service centre.  That was the stupidest mistake of my life. To be fair the service engineer arrived promptly for diagnosing the problem. The circuit board needs to be replaced he announced. It will be fixed in an hour or two. Seven hours and a lot of chaos later it was discovered that the thermostat needed to be changed as well. And when you need something desperately it is always located in a far off city. This time it was Pondicherry. The thermostat finally did arrive after a week of reminders. Thank God, I can finally warm wash my laundry again, I mused. Famous last thoughts. Like King Bruce the technician kept trying to fix the apparently minor problem, and I kept rekindling my hopes. I would switch on the machine, a few minutes later the circuit board would get all hot and sultry and go up in smoke. My teeth had become blunt with all that gritting, my hair sparse from all that pulling. A second opinion was sought. It was discovered that we now needed a new thermistor as well.

A lot of heartburn and a few thousand rupees later our washing machine is finally working. It has become noisy, the heating element is temperamental. And here I am pondering yet again, would it not had been simpler had we just dumped the damn thing!

Last week our geyser started leaking again. And this time I did not call the service centre.  I was tempted to throw it out of the window, but didn’t want to injure innocent people.  Instead the husband dismantled it and we sold it to our scrap dealer for a princely amount of Rs 60.  And with that momentous decision we bought ourselves a well deserved break from an endless cycle of trauma.

A lesson finally learnt!

40 comments

  1. You deserve an Oscar for your patience and fortitude 🙂

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  2. The current generation of gadgets have a lesser life and less tolerance for hospitalization. Its better to dispose them off after few minor treatments and save heart burns and nervous breakdowns … 😉

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  3. Well I can most definitely relate to this post! My mother had a fridge which served us for around 20 years wonderfully… But its cooling slowed down a bit and the new refrigerator in which we could convert the freezer into a fridge was launched, it was called the converti!! We gladly buyed that, its a waste of a product… Repaired it about 10 times in 8 years and the cooling system is worse!! Old is Gold…
    Have a nice day:-)

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  4. Beautifully written! Many humorous instances. I know, not actually humorous. Great post though.

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    1. Frustration begets humour 🙂

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  5. Loved reading the post. Sometimes I wonder if we could ever come out of the over dependence on the ‘appliance’ culture. They have made our life so easy, yet so difficult!

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  6. Well written Ms.Ray ! I remember my mom dad refusing to let go off their old radio, you know the one with a single cassette (what’s that?) player!!! Although the music squealed out of it , and never mind the old cassettes with their reels coming off, my folks would simply wind it again with a pencil and listen to it every single day!! Me and my sis would get so pissed off but sigh!

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    1. My Mum cried when we sold off our Premier Padmini!!!

      For them it’s not just an inanimate object but a cauldron of memories.

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  7. Ahh.. I was away on a month long vacation.

    If they last us a lifetime, how will the manufacturer’s sales graph show an upward trend.

    And that’s a good logic to follow. Saves a lot of heartburn.

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  8. Great writeup….(Was wondering where your posts were as I hadnt seen new ones at your blog)
    I think its something in the way the make products these days…its meant only to be used and thrown not repaired….have seen my dad keep trying to get things repaired when I would have told in the first instance itself to replace it. My logic is divide the amount you paid with the months its served it if it dosent sound big then throw the appliance not worth the trouble….

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  9. lol! nice account reminding us of the use and throw era we live in. 🙂

    We had a similar experience with our washing machine @ home. In our case even after all this drama it just refuses to start. We have given up on it wondering may be doing laundry just isn’t one of its passions…

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    1. ROFL @ may be doing laundry just isn’t one of its passions

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  10. 😀 Can imagine your plight. It happens always. They never seem to figure the problem out in the first attempt.
    But it was funny trying to imagine you pacing like a caged tigress. 😛

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    1. Firms hire village idiots masquerading as technicians. They don’t have a clue about the machine and end up wasting their time and ours.

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  11. Hilarious, talk of these things that conk off at the right time! Like the car I drove which sputtered and stopped for good at a mega signal with a whole train of madly-honking cars behind, and a policeman screaming at me. Thankfully the windows were pulled up, and the burring AC and loud music served as ear-plugs. And Purba, I totally totally agree with Alka’s comment above 🙂

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    1. Should have flashed them a smile. You could have them eating out of your hands :p

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  12. The gadgets conspire against me; the moment I touch them they die! My mobile is the latest to go kapoot.. 😦

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    1. Are you sure you don’t bully them too much?

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      1. haawwwww! bully? who me? never ‘ innocent puppy like expression’

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  13. Mayank I think you need to patent this idea – gadgets that self repair.

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  14. ahh one more thing. Its very hard to throw gadgets bought with love and research (a la Mr Ray). Even if we get a new one, its months and sometime years of holding it in hope it would self repair (perhaps) before it is junked.

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  15. That reminds me of an interesting one, my office laptop wouldnt stop bothering me. Something or the other – a battery, a charger and then something wrong with LCD. “Why did you guys choose this big D brand (ahh well let me not pull them down in public)!”, I asked the helpdesk at my office, exacerbated. Sir, they are the only ones who provide support in 4 hours flat. Very effective service – I was told.
    Hmmm… that ties up aint it. Make a product which breaks every day and support it with super efficient service. Great Business ! 🙂

    thanks for bringing back memories!

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  16. Loved your post Purba !
    Can relate with everyone of them experiences – how uncanny is that !
    Today’s gadgets come with a very short ‘shelf life’….if it doesn’t work, toss it out and get a new one, is adding to the tech-trash ! As the electronic equipments get cheaper and newer updated models more frequent, the culture of fixing a broken gadget is slowly disappearing(as is the West always)in India as well. People tossing their e-waste in record number is most definitely adding to the toxic technology trash which is fast becoming a global problem !

    Second Alka’s statement(above) wholeheartedly !
    Zephyr’s a self confessed addict of your blog….can see why !

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    1. In India we recycle….pass on our hand me downs to our hired helps or sell them to our scrap dealer.

      Sadly the new models in the market are no better – they may have fancy sounding technologies but are delicate as a feather. I wonder why we can’t have more skilled labour.

      And Cybernag and I co-chair our mutual admiration society :))

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  17. the age of replacement technology! lol!

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    1. Most things in life are dispensable 🙂

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  18. You need to be driven up the wall to come with such a post :p

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  19. The magic of Purba is that she can transform the mundane to very very interesting.We all go thru similar experiences but only she can write so lucidly about it.

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  20. This post definitely rings a bell in my head. It is astonishing that even after paying hefty amounts for the latest, grand model of appliances, they betray you. this season i have had my fridge repaired twice already. I dread how the summers will go if it gives trouble again.

    I wish the good old days of appliances wud come back. There is a certain pride in having one grow with you 🙂

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    1. I think the spikes in the power supply mess up the circuit board. And there isn’t a thing we can do about it.

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  21. At least we can repair or replace parts in our country ,but here in US , even if a screw come out of a gadget, you can not find someone to fix and they are just thrown in to the dumpsters (garbage bin)!

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    1. Skilled labour is so expensive in the US of A that it makes more sense to junk it 🙂

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  22. We’re just zipping ahead of time now.. New gadgets mean old ones adding to your carbon footprint. As guilty as if makes us, we do it all over again.

    Me included. Guilty as charged!

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    1. Good technicians in Gurgaon are extinct and it’s such a pain dealing with them!

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  23. This is so to the point and funny. Love the post and oh God don’t even wanna start on the list of appliances that misbehave all the time.

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    1. Next time just junk it!

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  24. Something quite similar. Replace “washing machine” with “aqua guard”. Tantrum thrown was almost similar. Mumma was on the verge to explode her not-so-nice-crotchety on the poor lad. *Sigh*

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    1. If only they had skills, we would be much more patient with them.

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  25. I could so relate to the washing machine thingy. I have replaced practically all parts except the tub itself. And now it makes no sense in buying a new one when I have already bought a new one albeit in bits and pieces 🙂 And I could picture you fidgeting impatiently while the mechanic tinkered with the machine 😀

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    1. Guffaws! That’s me, grinding my teeth and tapping my fingers impatiently.

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