Freej!

(That is how I used to hear it called, till I read about Refrigerators! This is one more from my pre-blogging days!

Raji asked me on the day they were leaving ‘why have you stopped writing or did you stop sending them to us?’ I think it was a ploy to keep me busy, as I would surely be missing my grand children who were with us for the last two months! Life becomes really intense with kids around us and it is totally dull when they leave.

Today being home alone and bored I opened the refrigerator looking for a drink. All I could find was a can of beer stuck in an undignified manner between two plastic containers. I opened the freezer to chill the beer and was shocked to see three idlys in a transparent plastic container. Being unprepared, I could not stomach the sight of normally steaming soft idlys huddled in a box freezing! I had read gruesome stories about psychopaths using refrigerators to store dismembered bodies and that the mostly unmourned Idi Amin had kept severed heads in a fridge. While there is really no comparison between the two, staring at these innocent looking idlys stirred my south Indian soul to no end.

So thanks to Raji here I am trying to write about my encounter with Refrigerators, a boon to humankind. I read that there is one in almost every American household and I am sure also in most European homes and the rest of the world busy catching up. It is indeed a modern miracle that has changed life mostly for the better with some odd exceptions!

I am only talking about it as a home appliance to keep food cold. I will not talk of its use as a message board and so on. Neither am I going to examine other types used for Labs. Raghu possibly would love to talk about it. I am also not concerned with its technology, refrigerators that work on propane, thermo electric principles, on solar energy or the various refrigerants especially the eco friendly non-CFC varieties! May be Meghana could tell us about her special experiments in oxford on natural refrigeration! However, I am particularly indebted to refrigerators as it made my continued stay in Bangkok possible as 'Wireforms' sell parts to its manufacturers.

My first encounter with a Fridge was at my Bombay aunt’s home. Surprisingly it was in the storeroom and not the living room as was the fashion those early days. I was eleven years old at that time and was happy to see a machine that made ice at home. I recall taking out ice cubes surreptiously to suck on and that while the water was colder from the fridge I still preferred the 'cooja' water. However eating cold alphonso mangoes was heavenly. I also remember that storing cooked food in them was a no- no! It was 'ulupu' to store cooked food in it. I do not know how to explain this, except that we never stored cooked food those times.

Another encounter I remember was almost two decades later when I saw it on display at my colleagues wedding. He brought it home along with his bride and it was strangely symbolic as she was rather cold to us, his bachelor friends!

Soon it was my turn to buy a fridge and I could afford only the smallest at that time. Anyway I thought it was just right, all we needed was space to store water, milk and of course a few bottles of beer. As you would guess the process of my learning had started! There were more important priorities for storing in the fridge than beer. What about vegetables I was asked, there were umpteen other things that needed place in the fridge. The last straw was when our Bai started storing Dahi and leftovers in the fridge. While this was progress as a taboo was lifted, I was loosing ground or rather space! Tara complicated the situation further by keeping idol of Gods over the fridge. Soon I retreated and switched to rum, frankly as beer had got expensive. But I kept grumbling that only unnecessary stuff was being stored in it! My associating fridge primarily with beer would have made Pavlov happy.

My next real encounter with the refrigerator was in Seattle. I had to actually manage the fridge this time. I somehow shoved in all the curry powders and stuff sent by Tara as it was deep and big. Only problem was to find them again. We also needed space for Neil’s needs. Luckily we moved to a new place and decided to keep both the fridges. The old one was relegated to the garage and all the curry powders and of course Beer would go in there. I had a real problem when Nikhil arrived three years later as I had to create space for more curry and other powders sent again by Tara. I am certain if there is a way of carbon dating curries it could tell us the number of trips we made and when! There was no way Nandini could use the loads of curry powder sent to her.

Another complication in managing these huge cavernous fridges was due to expiry dates printed on the stored items. I had strict instructions to throw away without mercy anything that had passed the expiry date. Raxit told me that it was not worth the risk. I was in constant dilemma, as I would invariably find things that had gone hiding and would reappear only after the date of expiry!

(I think this invention would solve my problem of finding a dignified storage place for my beer and I have don't have to get up for it. Watch this video anyway, it is fun!)

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/445498/robotic_beer_launching_refrigerator
As usual I did a small google search looking for more ideas and found a few interesting trivia. It made my job simple as well. Read on and enjoy my ‘copy and paste’ work on refrigerators!

Some interesting facts copied from the web, Sorry I do not have the link:
-Dr. John Gorrie of Apalachicola, Florida invented mechanical refrigeration in 1851.
Electric refrigerators were first sold to American housewives in 1916, at a cost of $900.
In 1956, 80% of all U.S. households had a refrigerator, but only 8% of British households had one.
-The value of a new refrigerator rests on more than the initial price tag. The annual operating costs on the Energy Label can be considered the second price tag. Compare models similar in size and features.
-Refrigerators manufactured since 1997 are required by the Department of Energy to use no more energy than two light bulbs in order to qualify for the Energy Star rating. This translates into a 200% more efficient refrigerator than those of the Harvest Gold era.
-If your refrigerator/freezer experiences a power failure or malfunction, keep the door closed. A full freezer will remain frozen for about 48 hours; a half-full freezer about 24 hours. Refrigerated items will last 4-6 hours depending on the warmth of the surrounding room temperature.
-Keep the condenser coils clean to ensure an efficient refrigerator. This should be done yearly. They can be found usually at the back lower compartment. Use a gentle brush, so as not to disturb the tubing.
-To eliminate odors, place a bowl of cotton balls soaked in plain vanilla extract in the fresh food section. ( I hope it works for Indian food!)

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