My mixer-grinder stopped working. I was making hummus when the motor just gave up and the blade stopped rotating. The chick peas were only a half-ground mess. Time to get a new one, I thought… anyway one of the blades had broken into two and the handle of one of the jugs was about to fall off. But I didn’t rush out to buy a new one until not having a mixer-grinder started to become a real inconvenience.
A word here about mixer-grinders: no Indian household is complete without one. Each kitchen must have one – along with the compulsory pressure cooker and tawa (a flat pan used to make chappatis). A mixer-grinder is an integral part of every Indian kitchen, used to grind spices into powders, make idly and dosa batter and chop up coconut. You simply cannot live without one. Though I had managed to live without one before moving to India, my beloved mixie had become one of my most essential kitchen tools. Instead of grinding spices and mixing dosa batter though, I used mine to grind flax seeds and make hummus, amongst other things. The blender option is good for fruit smoothies. So when it stopped working I was at a loss.
I was on the way to the shop to look for a new mixer-grinder when I met my landlady. “Where are you going?” is one of her favourite questions. When I told her what had happened she was horrified: “How will you cook!?” she asked, aghast. I told her that since I’d had the mixer-grinder for three years, maybe it was time for a new one. She looked even more horrified. “Only three years? I’ve had my mixie for over 30 years and it’s still working! No, no, don’t buy a new one!” she begged me. She had a solution for me. “You can take it to the repairman!”
I had passed the little repair shops on the main road dozens of times where I’d see men tinkering around with screwdrivers and wires, but I hadn’t even thought of this option. Why? Because where I come from these little shops do not exist. If something breaks, you try to fix it. If you’re unsuccessful then you buy a new one. Why? Because appliances are usually cheaper to replace than to fix!
Not in India. India is the country of recycle, reuse and repair! So off I went to the repair shop. My mixer-grinder was not the only casualty. The repairman happened to be working on another mixie which seemed to be in far worse condition: the body had been opened up and a mess of wires was spilling all over the operation table. Mine was child’s play in comparison. The plastic disc which had worn out and stopped rotating was swiftly exchanged for another one. The broken blade was removed and replaced with an identical shiny brand-new one. Total repair time: 5 minutes. Cost: 70 rupees. My mixie was as good as new.
My landlady was happy my mixer-grinder had come back to life. “How much did you pay?” (another favourite question). “You see! I saved you 2000 rupees!” she told me proudly.