I remember when my mum told me that my aunt and uncle had got a dishwasher. I was 10 and it was 1986. I was so excited. What it meant was, at the next family get-together, all me and my other girl cousin would have to do is collect the plates from the dining table, collate them at the sink and the dishwasher would do everything else. At the next do, there was more excitement in store as I realised the dishwasher was an appliance and not live, human hired help. A machine that did all the work for you - brilliant. But as a child, you learn pretty quickly that things are not what they seem.
I assumed everything went straight off the table and into the gleaming white device. Then, all the dirty dishes would get washed, scrubbed, massaged, exfoliated and rinsed at volcanic temperatures and when you opened the door, the crockery would be all shiny, new and dry. Not quite.
First of all, I realised Indian people, or at least, my family, don’t like putting dirty things anywhere. Even into receptacles which are expecting dirt. Take bins for example. Plastic containers are washed and rinsed before they go into the dustbin, the bin itself is washed with alarming regularity, and dirty washing is often soaked before it goes into the washing machine. If these appliances had feelings, I think they’d feel pretty under-achieving.
And the dishwasher was no exception to this rule. So I understood that big blobs of food had to be scraped off, but by the time I’d rinsed the crockery so it met the hallowed dishwasher’s entry requirements, it was so clean it may as well have been dried and put away. And then there were all the items which couldn’t go in anyway – fancy wine glasses, wooden crockery and cast iron pots plus anything which we needed to use again in the next hour so that needed normal washing-up.
On the plus side, over the years, I’ve become a pro at Dishwasher Loading, able to load even the trickiest items and balance them with the skill of a circus balancing act. If there was an NVQ in the activity, I’d be about to apply for my teaching qualification. So that’s something to fall back on if the writing ever dries up...