It is taking so much space in the small kitchen. But Babua Singh won’t crib about that. “You stack the bartan (dishes) in it, go to office, and when you come back in the evening everything is spotlessly clean and dry,” she says.
A textile designer, Ms Singh is showing her newly acquired dish-washing machine in the Ghaziabad flat that she shares with her husband and college-going daughter. Like many middle-class households, Ms Singh used to depend on the services of a part-time house maid for washing the dishes. The coronavirus pandemic changed that as visits from the outside now involve fears of getting the virus. Ms Singh says she nevertheless supported Asha, her long-time housemaid, until she left for her village in Bihar a couple of months ago.
While her family would give a hand in household chores during the ongoing pandemic, Ms Singh would still find herself too involved in the kitchen duties. “I leave for office at 9.30 in the morning and come back around 6pm, so there isn’t so much time to relax.”
The house always had a washing machine to take care of the laundry “but the idea of getting a dish washer came after Mukul Bhaiya and Anita Bhabhi got one for themselves,” she says, referring to a couple who couldn’t stop gushing about how easy their life had become after getting the admirable appliance.
Following a brief discussion with her husband, Ms Singh ordered the machine online “and the company’s people helped us install it… they came in mask.”
The new machine seems the most ostentatious object in Ms Singh’s kitchen. A simple two-burner gas range reigns over the counter. “Lakshman Rekha” chalk is drawn around an aata jar to keep off the ants. The microwave is in the corner and the spices and lentils are stocked behind wooden closets.
“Even the pressure cooker cleans up very well… the only thing I have to wash in the sink is the kadahi and the tawa,” she says.
Dishwashing machines are novel to Indian homes — during the harshest days of the lockdown, some of the more popular online videos were of Hindi film stars trying their hand at washing the dishes in the sink.
Ms Singh confides that some of her friends also got the machine “in dekha-dekhi (got inspired) but they use it rarely, as if too much handling might spoil it… just like during the early days of the washing machines (for clothes), when we would use it only on Sundays!” Native of a UP village, Ms Singh reveals that nobody in her circle of immediate relatives has ever used a dishwasher.
And now she playfully poses with the machine, making sure that her face is not visible “because of shyness.”