How I tamed an unruly, attention seeking washing machine | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 02, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 02, 2018


How I tamed an unruly, attention seeking washing machine

A washing machine is the fifth most important invention man has ever invented or stolen from an alien spaceship. Its illustriousness stems from having car, paracetamol, toilet flush and toilet hand-shower. Let's face it, hygiene is important. Cholera outbreaks in the 1800s thanks to horrendous hygiene were no laughing matter.

It is a myth that a washing machine is a luxury. Having the exactly same-tasting fifteen different fish items at Fish and Co is a luxury. A dubious one at that. A washing machine saves you money and headaches. Here's the math. We Bangladeshis love to have someone else do our work. Maids are in big demand and they charge 800-1,000 taka per task depending on neighbourhoods. That is 12,000 taka in a year and you receive no tax rebates. Prices often start at that range. In the long run buying a washer is actually cheaper than employing a maid who will usually take five sick days a month and a few more unexplained absences. Most of these absences are verified on their Facebook profile under 'Mozar din catailam Water Perk a.' All this while you sniff your dirty clothes wondering if it can be reused one more time. Then you die of cholera.

Every superhero has a backstory

I suffered from the pains of having to wash my clothes or use a lot of perfume when I was a student. Except all my money went into upgrading a PC so I didn't have much perfume either. When I got married my wife decided I should become civilised. We used her mother's washing machine for a short while which needed manual adjustments every four minutes or it would chew up the clothes like a rabid dog. As a test, she tried it out with my favourite worn out T-shirts which promptly got destroyed. They were good T-shirts with only a few holes. The washing-machine turned them into holes with only a few bits of T-shirt remaining. The wife promptly suggested a new washing machine to prevent future mishaps. You would almost think she planned it out.

The beginning of a beautiful friendship

With a heavy heart, I bought a fancy washing machine instead of the new, lower, stiffer suspension set I wanted for my car. The only compromise the wife made was letting me choose a model with the maximum number of buttons. It is a guy thing. Buttons are a necessity. It makes one feel more capable than I am. Over the few years, I have come to treat the washing machine as my second best friend. It also smells better than my first best friend.

Do you have a PhD in detergents?

Turns out there are Ph balanced detergents and separate ones for colour, black and white and 3D. There are separate detergents for front loading or top loading machines. I was too afraid to search further and find out there are separate ones for black, white or gunmetal grey coloured machines. The truly scientific way is to go by smell. I pick the one that smells the nicest. A nice smell on your clothes will make it feel ten times more fresh. A liquid detergent does help though to mix quickly, thoroughly.

Softener is a beautiful lie

It is an illusion. Much like HR Evaluation Forms for job promotion. It just makes you feel like something nice is happening when it is not. Softener makes clothes feel fluffy and, well, soft. Many end up making clothes more difficult to clean because they leave a wax like residue which reduces absorbency. Which is terrible for towels which become soft but no longer dry your hair as well. This works out fine though for bald people.

It is snowing tissue paper

You must remember to check pockets. Tissue paper hiding secretly inside your pockets is like a bomb left unnoticed. During a wash, the tissue paper disintegrates and sticks to everything like annoying little snowflakes. Your clothes look like they have the worst case of dandruff. The wife gives me her trademark disapproving glare once a month for this. So much so that, we have a note stuck on the cabinet above the machine suggesting we check for tissue paper.

Stop throwing money in it

Check for money too. Although money comes out nicely washed, fresh and crinkly. But seriously, stop throwing money at it.

Even the washer needs a bath

As the saying goes, “Even Helpers Need Help, Terminators Need Terminating and Washers Need Washing”. Your washing machine won't smell as good if you do not go through the complicated process of cleaning it every month or two. This involves using baking soda, vinegar, hot water and magic incantations that could result in a demon escaping if you're not careful.

I have to admit, it wasn't easy at first. I wanted to press all the buttons. But I showed uncharacteristic restraint as the wife stood nearby with arms crossed. I clicked on that single button called automatic. And life instantly became easier. Since then, I have secretly pushed all the buttons. I have also turned some clothes slightly pink, green and yellow. But I have also learned, man can become friends with a machine as long as it has not tentacles or is connected to the internet. Although there is a model available that I would like to upgrade to which has Wi-Fi connectivity.

On a side note, the five worst and most useless inventions for Bangladeshis are HR Evaluation Forms, traffic lights, vehicle indicator lights, public toilets and HR. None of these work. No one listens. No one cares.

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