My three years old daughter asked for a fan. Having been away at sea for a fortnight, I was not aware of what new toy was in vogue in her friends circle. The following Saturday afternoon I set out to Crawford Market in humid and hot Bombay summer, searched for the best toy fan in the market and spent a good sum on it, by my standards of affordability then. When I gave the toy to my daughter with all the love and a sense of achievement, she was disappointed. Her need was a plastic container with peppermints, with a fan shaped lid. Some of her friends had it. The cost would have been Rs. 2 in the shop next door. I toiled half a day to buy one, paying 100 times as much, and not meeting the needs of my daughter.
25 years later, after several such incidents…
My wife gave me news that her sister had bought a new refrigerator with glorious features. A few days later, I was given a list of a few more relatives and friends who had bought different brands of new refrigerators.
Our refrigerator was bought to replace another faithful older piece ten years ago, when my sister-in-law too had bought a new model. Now, again, the refrigerator at home suddenly started looking ancient and inadequate. Its cooling seemed inefficient; the colour looked faded and dull. There was a scare that it could stop working any day. It seemed to have served its purpose and paid for the amount we had spent on it. It was an eyesore.
The debate subsided after a couple of days and the gadget continued to cool food without complaining. Then, one evening it really stopped working.
Rotten food from the broken refrigerator haunted me in my dreams and I woke up at 2:00 a.m., looking for my tool kit and cleaning gear. I opened up the equipment and saw that its cooling fan was struck. After cleaning and lubricating the motor, it came to life to take on its duty. I spent another 3 hours to clean every nook and corner of the fridge to sparkle and was very satisfied with the work. I was confident that technically there was no more problem with the gadget and it would work for many more cool years. If at all it gave some trouble, I knew its mechanisms better now.
When my wife woke up in the morning, I was beaming with a sense of achievement and hoped to be greeted with an appreciative smile by her. She noticed the working fridge, spotless clean, but bore a scornful look. Sensing trouble, I presented the fact sheepishly. She was furious that I made the dumb thing work again and was certain that it would break down soon. How soon? Very soon, any moment.
Within a week we got a shining new refrigerator, now purring softly for the past one year at home, lovingly decorated with fridge magnets plucked out of the older one. The old one that worked as good as new went to my bachelor nephew, living alone in Bangalore, who did not have one, did not need one. I learnt a few things – emotional and technical. Win-win-win situation.
A few months later, the microwave oven in the kitchen started smelling when used for more than a minute. My technical fingers itched and led me to repair the gadget. In most cases of failure of home gadgets, the problems are very simple and we can attend to them. The microwave oven worked satisfactorily now, but I spent hours on the Internet finding new models. I went to a couple of show-rooms in the neighbourhood and shortlisted a few. Then I asked my wife to go with me to select a new oven. “Why do we need a new one? Ours is working so well!” was my wife’s response.
You don’t have to be twice shy just because you are bitten once (or several times.)