Discouraged, I stared helplessly at the mountain of clothes, which lay in the washing machine, and the guy appeared to be on strike, stubbornly still, not moving an inch. I had plenty of chores waiting in line, the weather also didn’t help much, cloudy, with a veil of dismal pollutants hanging in the air; I was wondering what to do. The mechanic was called and he diagnosed a fault in the washing machine that would take almost a week to repair. This was bad news as I change my bed linen every other day, the men in the house have the awkwardness of dropping food on their clothes and after a daily cricket game my son’s clothes must be boiled, sterilized and washed. what only the washing machine could do.
That first day I tried to hand wash the pile of laundry, scrub, rinse, squeeze every garment to make sure every drop of water was purged. It was grueling, time consuming and I realized how important this machine was in my life. I totally agree with Ha-Joon Chang, an economist at the University of Cambridge, that “the washing machine has changed the world more than the Internet”, at least for women.
As I was experiencing this deep sense of loss, after my foray into the entire wash cycle that took my energy away, I began to search for the inventor of this magical gadget. While reading more about the washing machine, I stumbled across a Ted Talk by Hans Rosling, a Swedish statistician who was on The Times’ 100 Most Influential People list in 2012. He called the washing machine a “The greatest invention of the industrial revolution”. .
He was only 4 years old when he saw his mother load the washing machine for the first time in his life. Parents had saved money for years to be able to buy it. Her grandmother was invited to witness the miraculous feat. Throughout her life, she heated water with firewood and hand washed linen for seven children. For her it was a phenomenal moment, she eagerly wanted to be the one to press the power button and sit in front of him until the wash cycle was finished!
On that first day, her mother said enthusiastically, “Han, we’ve loaded the laundry, the machine will do the work, and now we can go to the library.” So, in the last lines of the talk, Han states that you load the machine and get out of it; you get books, you have time to read, to read to your little ones. This is how his mother had more time to read, learn English as a foreign language and instill a love of reading in her son as well.
These days, I tend to look at every piece of invention around me with more respect and gratitude. Even small things like safety pins, paper clips, staplers and scissors. The latest high-priced invention that I can’t live without these days is the air purifier, because without it I’m catapulted into an endless sneeze, watery eyes. Lately when I moved home I was very grateful that someone came up with the idea of ”bubble wrap”, not only did it protect my delicate cut glass pieces, but it helps me de-stress. when I addictively burst bubbles. It’s therapeutic, try it! The funny thing is that Alfred Fielding and Marc Shuvon were trying to develop a 3D plastic wallpaper when they accidentally invented something else – the Bubble Wrap.
Well, right now I would like someone to invent a machine to get rid of the stubble that farmers in northern India have to burn at this time of year, severely affecting the quality index of the air. On the other hand, the husband wants a robotic back scraper. It currently appears that itchy, watery eyes and dirty lungs are going to be the parents of future inventions.
Have you ever thought about your favorite invention or is there still something you would like to be invented?
Navanita Varadpande is a writer based in Gurgaon, India @VpNavanita