I read somewhere that these great and wonderful kings of yore were excellent orators. They probably approached their troops the morning before the war and enthused their troops with words dripping with honey, infused with rage, that sent their blood pumping with pride, so they performed their best on the battlefield. We cannot, in all honesty, lay any such claims when we sent the poor husband off to wage a war with the Dishwasher company, but we tried.
The fact that the dishwasher had tested our patience was evident:
Not only were tempers short, but festivities abounded. There was Krishna Jayanthi, Vinayaka Chaturthi, Navarathri, a couple of full moons, a couple of new moons and all the days of waxing and waning moons in between. Every God had to be appeased, and every blip in the lunar cycle acknowledged. What was one to do? How does all this affect dishwashing you ask. If ever there was a race to determine the maximum variety of dishes cooked, I am sure the sturdy South Indian family will lead the race with a resounding burp. Festivals provide ample opportunity for the palate to be challenged and rewarded. Consequently, the dishwashing load increased. It did not help matters at all that in the 2 months since installing the new dishwasher, the repairmen had clopped into their house with large horse-like feet twice with little to show. Much like horses, these men, left their shoes on as well. The slight pursing of the lips of the parents-in-law may have been lost on them men, but they were not lost on me.
All in all, there was sternness in manner and reproach in tone when telling the husband clearly that he must throw his weight about and create a ruckus. His parents did their best to buck him up. They told him that their generation did not stand for such namby-pamby nonsense as polite calls to customer service. He was urged to gain inspiration from such sturdy souls as his uncle.
“Remember Kichaa Maama?” said the mother-in-l.
“I thought you didn’t like him much.” said the husband smartly for he seemed to know where the conv. was leading.
“That is not the point. Kichaa mama achieved things.” There was pride in her voice. Kichaa Maama’s mother could have learnt a thing or two on feeling proper pride at her son’s achievements.
“Who is Kichaa Mama?”I asked, nibbling a persimmon, from the sidelines.
The husband shot me a dirty look that said, “Et tu Brutus?”
It was just the cue that the parents-in-law were waiting for. They tripped over themselves explaining. This Kichaa Maama’s middle name was ‘Follow-up’. He was also a close relative: only twice-removed-on-the-paternal-side and once-removed-by-marriage-on-the-maternal-side. He never quailed at simple things such as customer service calls. Apparently, no atrocity of service was left to simmer in kitchens like this. He called and called them again. (“You mean, he made a pest of himself.” said the husband in a brooding low-tone. This slur on Kichaa Maama was ignored for the moment)
They were dealt with firmly in letters to the CEOs by that uncle. CEO’s, apparently, reacted much better to customer complaints than customer service representatives and this legendary uncle had received new items as replacements in his firm dealings with companies. Legend has it that he once received a new television set from the CEO personally. I am thinking he received a set of AA batteries for his trouble sent personally by the CEO’s secretary’s assistant.
The husband had a martyred look about him as he slunk out to call the customer service department that day and live up to the dubious precedent of Kichaa Maama.
The day wore on and the husband adroitly avoided all calls from home. The first words to greet the tired warrior as he stepped into the home were: How did the customer service call go?
The man grinned somewhat sheepishly and I knew what happened. There were things I am sure that the husband would like to imbibe from Kichaa Maama, but yelling at customer service representatives was not one of them.
“I did try.” said the endearing man. “But, the image of a sad customer service rep earning a regular paycheck to talk to irate customers all day long rose before me. What do they care about an Indian man whose house is filled with dirty dishes?”
“So, what? Did you even try to tell them that this was the third time that all this is happening?”
“Yes. Yes. I did. “ said he rather pained and stung that he should not have mentioned the trauma the household was in. Another repairman will come to take care of things anytime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. before the next full moon. (I exaggerate, but this time he did not even get a shorter window in which to make ourselves available. Really!)
“Let’s go for a walk.” I said hurriedly before proper admonitions were forthcoming. It was clear that the man was incapable of having a customer service rep reach for their earplugs, so why harp on the point?
“Did you let them know that there are upset people in the house?” I asked when we had reached the safety of the sidewalk lined with trees whose leaves had started changing colors to welcome beautiful Fall.
The husband laughed and said that he did start off in an irate tone of voice, but then he thought of the poor lady’s life. “I mean, she has a life and we have ours. Her job was to note down complaints and take care of them. Two sentences into my call, I think she sensed my reluctance and I started laughing. I told her that everyone was upset and she said very fairly that she understood our situation. So, she noted it down in her comments that, we are upset, and that it has happened twice already – so, the CEO knows the nourishncherish family is upset over the dishwasher.” said the man, a smile quivering over his lips.
Sigh. If a bird tried to roar like a lion, could it?
P.S. The third set of repairmen clopped into the house looking like Laurel & Hardy and this time spoke with great Spanish comedian authority that the slider was the problem. All in all, all the innards of the dishwasher have now been replaced. We walk gingerly around it, just in case. Friends suggest a tribal dance to appease the Dishwasher Gods.
P.P.S.: Last night, the dishwasher knew that the saga around it was coming to an end and made a weird noise like it was thudding shoes around inside. Please keep your fingers crossed.