Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Harry and the Magic Broom

Often it happens that me, aspiring Business Consultant in Bangalore turns into a very bumbling baby-sitter once I reach home in Cochin. My sister’s kids ensure that I keep myself fit chasing them and retrieve the myriad toys which lie around the house. A wailing two-something once forced me to hunt for the yellow tennis-ball in the space below the staircase…
I didn’t find the tennis ball ……………but instead there it sat; like Zidane after the World cup Finals match; the erstwhile star of the household. Our old Eureka Forbes vacuum cleaner

I still remember the day when it came home one day 15 odd years ago....
The door opened revealing the Eureka Forbes Man. White shirt, blue trousers and ..."A striped TIE"!! I hadn’t seen anyone in a tie except in movies!!!! And there was a snazzy motorbike parked behind him in the yard
I’m "Harry" ! he said; (Wow! "Not Hari, nor Harish; but Harry! Pure Hollywood!!!) And he would be demonstrating to us "the vacuum cleaner" a new wonder gizmo deemed to render housemaids obsolete.
He unzipped his black bag and revealed the long white-and-red contraption with a crumpled looking tube. Also out came a couple more of other futuristic looking tubes with weird shaped nozzles and brushes in the end. The entire family stood open-mouth in rapt-attention. With steely determination, the man began assembling the entire device as confidently as Rambo assembling his bazooka.
"Where can I plug this in" he asked.. Reverentially we showed him the plug point.
Rambo was ready now. He lifted a socks clad foot to switch on the machine… A deft click and a helicopter-like-whirring sound filled the room. Our man got to work. He ran the brush at the end of the tube on the mosaic floor; on the walls; the window-sill, behind the curtains and carefully shaved the chin of the Kathakali figure on the wall. We stayed quiet; and even my chatterbox-sister didn’t dare to breathe lest it disturbed his concentration. Then, at the end of around 5 minutes he once again lifted his sock-clad foot.. Another deft click and the whirring stopped.
We were all looking at him expectantly…..
Our man seemed satisfied by the effort and asked us to gather around. And we did. He clicked another button and head-section open and the top section of the contraption sprang open.
He held the now opened device by the sides and lifted it as if it was the Holy Grail itself. He invited us to take a look inside it. Each of us looked in and …GASPED!! Never had I seen such a repository of filth in the world. A strategically placed paper bag inside the device held a hell lot of dust, cobwebs, bangle pieces and even a 50 paise coin which had rolled under the book shelf months back.
Jeez ! Were we living in the midst of such dirt and never even knew about it? Dad remarked that we were paying the maid for nothing and Mom couldn’t agree more. (I pocketed the coin in between the confusion).
Harry now launched into a soliloquy. He talked of how we home-dwellers were ignorant of the dirt that pervaded the house. Entire "Hum Aap Ke Hain Kaun" size joint families of germs and bacteria were staying at our home and we did not even realize it!
Suddenly he turned to my little sis and asked "Don’t you often get attacks of cold and have sniffling all the time?"
"No!!!" She answered looking bewildered.
"NO??????????, don’t lie, I heard you sniffle a couple of times; don’t you often catch a cold??? Tell me the truth!! He demanded"
My sis wilted under the pressure. "Yes, sometimes; I catch a cold!"
"See??" He exclaimed once again triumphantly. "The kids are getting diseases because of the dust and dirt in the house. Bacteria, Viruses, Amoebas!! And look at that book-shelf there. Its got termites and …"Silver Fish"
"Silverfish??" Now that sounded cool. I always wanted a Goldfish ; but I never realized we already had Silverfish at home. "Silverfish??" I asked expectantly. Dad mentioned the Malayalam equivalent of the name and it didn’t sound so glamorous anymore....
(Disclaimer Silverfish is not related to Silverine in any way).
He continued" These pasts and micro-organisms really affect everything; it even affects the brain cells of little boys. …
For example…"
He turned to me "What was the rank you got in the last School Onam Examination?" Now, that was below the belt.
I kept my head low.."I was 17th…. I think"
"Aaha!! There you have it" he exclaimed turning to Mom. If the house is kept free of bacteria you can expect him to be at least First every time.
That was the clincher!!! Mom would now lobby with Dad to buy the Vacuum Cleaner. Her colleagues were somehow all uniformly blessed with extremely bright and gifted progeny. This awesome set of child prodigies invariably scored obscenely high marks in everything especially Math... And their mothers apparently had no lunch time topic but the awe-inspiring academic adventures of these enfant terribles. Obviously my Mom had an embarrassing time. But now, she had the answer. It was those miserable set of micro-organisms inhabiting the household which was playing havoc with my Maths marks!
Which parents would like to toy with the future of their kids? What is mere 4,000 bucks compared to that? Luckily Harry had a voucher we could sign and he casually mentioned that vacuum cleaner prices were going up after the budget. It was now or never. Dad signed the voucher and wrote a cheque. Harry promised to deliver the Vacuum cleaner in a couple of days
Harry’s entire performance had been magical, years before his magical namesake.
"How much do you get paid?" Dad asked him in jest. "Would like to send him (he nodded at me) to your company for a job". That moment I would have been more than glad. Wear a tie, zip around on a motorbike…Man, I’d love that!! (Unlike most boys of my age, my ambitions were decidedly Yuppy-ish; I was never inclined to be a pilot nor fire-fighter! )
They delivered the machine as promised. By virtue of the divine authority bestowed on him on being the Head of the Family" ; Dad was the unanimous choice for operating it. Under our watchful eyes, he assembled the device almost as confidently just as Harry did and plugged it in.
We held our breath as he switched it on. This was the moment of truth! And then….…the whirring started! Dad looked relieved. He vacuumed the Living Room and as was to become the ritual; we all gathered around to open the cover and look at the paper bag inside………And it never disappointed. There was the expected collection of dirt and dust; to which we said "uggghhhh" in unision.
I caught the "Vacuuming Bug" soon. From Disappear-from-home-at-the-mention-of-housework-boy; I metamorphosed into a Enthusiastic-Vacuumizer boy. I vacuumed my room with devotion. The shelf, under the bed and dirty sneakers. I even used the nozzle to give a nose job to the Michael Jackson poster (we didn’t have too many idolize-able icons those days, you see). I fought with my sis to vacuum the dining room. We’d gleefully scoop up broken bits of glass with the nozzle and sometimes even oops, knock down a glass so that we could suck it up with a vacuum cleaner!
"Hasta-la-vista baby" I 'd tell a spider scurrying from his erstwhile "webite" before it got sucked into the vacuum cleaner nozzle.
This device was just too awesome! We were debating whether to give the pink slip to the maid-servant but Mom was sensible enough to retain her and just alter her Job Description to cooking. Afterall; the vacuum cleaner could do almost anything but cook! We even once used its blower function and paint to create abstract paintings. We cut those up and sent them to people as Christmas cards
Despite all those ways in which the vacuum cleaner revolutionized our household, somewhere down the line; things changed. I noticed that my sister didn’t fight with me anymore to vacuum the dining room. She was becoming increasingly magnanimous in that aspect (which was quite unlike her). The lack of competition made the task of vacuuming rather unchallenging.
Sensing the shortage and lack of enthusiasm of volunteers, Mom now devised a routine where one of us vacuums the room and the maid wipes the floor later. Giving the maid the Vacuum cleaner for operation would have been unthinkable earlier; but later for want of volunteers- she was entrusted the device with detailed instructions for use. Well, she had however not been convinced about the benefits of technology as she had missed Harry’s spiel. Hence she still preferred her trustworthy broom (a Nimbus 2000 if I remember right; or was it a Firebolt? ;-) ) and used to leave the vacuum cleaner in the corridor.
After a couple of incidents where people tripped over the vacuum cleaner in the corridor ; mom took the contraption; zipped it up in the bag it came in & put it in the space below the stairs to be used only once a month.This became once in a couple of months soon and later - once in half an year.And there it sits -dusty dirty and forgotten.Guess it still works though. But you have to dust it with a broom first before touching it :-)


flaashgordon said...

Have migrated all the comments from my o3 blog

# re: Harry And The Magic Broom

@ LI: wedding post has been deferred for mow- now have to get wifes approval before posting anything :-))

@ Adiya: have implemented ur suggestion
Posted @ 10/1/2006 12:15 PM
# re: Harry And The Magic Broom
Nice Blog . What happened to that wedding post that you promised all your fans :) ? hope you are not too busy after marriage :)
Posted @ 9/15/2006 7:11 PM
# re: Harry And The Magic Broom
he thats gud yaar. nice one.

just a suggestion please format the blog in a paragraph based readable format. i kept on using horizontal scrollbar to such a interesting piece of article. hope this sounds positive 4 u.

good article

Posted @ 9/6/2006 5:13 AM
# re: Harry And The Magic Broom
@ shiva : Thanks pal.. Well Aquaguard guys somehow are never as good.
Mebbe its because we are now used to salesmen a lot

@ MGP: I haven't got an encounter on Eureka water purifier salesmen yet
:-) Mebbe soon though ; we 're thinking of getting one

@ Sunny: hello sunny, long time! Am fine (both halves;)) So we're not
the only family conned into vacuum cleaner customers eh? Thnxx a lot
..keep visiting- I cant comment on ur blog since all blog sites are blocked in my ofc :-((

@ sapphire: Thnxx Sapphire on noticing the title- had thought of it only
after 2 days of having the post up. So used it anyway :-)
Posted @ 8/22/2006 2:48 PM
# re: Harry And The Magic Broom
hey.. good one as always..
guess these days.. the vaccum cleaner salesman have been replaced by aquaguard salesmen..
Posted @ 8/18/2006 11:30 AM
# re: Harry And The Magic Broom
Well written.
Can anyone come with story of Eureka water purifiers?

Posted @ 8/14/2006 4:58 PM
# re: Harry And The Magic Broom
Naveen....Howz u doing buddy?....& ur better half?

We too have an Eureka Forbes vacuum cleaner that is used about once a year!...The salesman had convinced us that life wasnt worth living w/o a vacuum cleaner! :D:D

Very well-written....as alwayz!....Take care, pa! :)
Posted @ 8/11/2006 11:13 AM
# re: Harry And The Magic Broom
thats exactly wat happened to the magic broom at my home too lol
a cool connection ..harry hehee i don like hary potter :)
Posted @ 8/11/2006 11:07 AM
# re: Harry And The Magic Broom

@Prasad: Thanx mate !! Most prob u'll find the old vacuum cleaner so
dusty that u have to vacuum it first !!!!

@hysteria: Thanx pal! Movie, eh ? I thot mebbe an Ekta Kapoor serial
;-)" Vacuum cleaner bhi kabhi bahu thi"

@ Sandeep: Hmm...Our Harry did look really well-drilled. Those days when
salesmen making housecalls were not so aplenty- this guy was just so
awesome! As u say, currently Vacuum cleaners not a hot product at all.
None even seem to have ad budgets to spend on these. Prob in India;
domestic labor being so cheap and available; this is not a winning
product. Neither its one you can show off ; so the appeal is
significantly reduced. The company Real value if I remembr right, tried
one more product after Cease fire called Vacuumizer. This supposedly
kept biscuits etc fresh in plastic jars!! Once again a passing fad and
the company is prob gone under now!

Keep visiting and do keep commenting

@ tECHJ : Thanks but no man, I don't think I'll be a good salesman. I'll
promote the vacuum cleaner by saying " This really sucks!!!"

(now will that increase revenues or decrease it??)

@ loki : Me too man! I miss the narration of Super hero adventures a
lot...Havent met any other stand-up comedians hereabouts. Only one
advice, never travel British Airways ;-)))
(cant help rubbing it in, hehe)

PS: I changed the title a bit after u guys commented- hope u like this
one better)
Posted @ 8/11/2006 11:03 AM
# re: Harry And The Magic Broom
hhmmmmmm will hav to search my house for this!!! gud post mate!
Posted @ 8/10/2006 11:21 PM
# re: Harry And The Magic Broom
Interesting. Very melodramatic I say... was almost like watching a movie! :-)

Posted @ 8/10/2006 3:21 PM
# re: Evacuuated..
There was something about those salesmen from Eureka Forbes which made so many households invest a reasonably high sum of money (going by income levels in the late 80s-early 90s) on a contraption that was perhaps not worth all the money and was quite cumbersome to operate. I personally know a couple of sales folks who started their careers with EF long ago and have since been doing wonders in their subsequent sales jobs. Thats how good their sales training was!

I also remember salesmen from Real Value who used to sell fire extinguishers (Cease Fire??) door to door. They too were pretty good at convincing the householder about the grave possibility of a fire outbreak and that it was imperative that he invested in an extinguisher. Does that brand exist anymore??

And vacuum cleaners have ended up leading a quiet and condemned life under cots and behind staircases! It is no more a hot "white good" that families desire to own too.
Posted @ 8/10/2006 1:04 PM
# re: Evacuuated..

nice one

How much do you get paid?” Dad asked him in jest. “Would like to send him (he nodded at me) to your company for a job”.

hehe. if that had happened..you would have been one of their best salesmen !!! wat sey?
Posted @ 8/10/2006 12:01 PM
# re: Evacuuated..
as always, i again miss the 'talks' and the 'gyan sessions' we have had in the cafeteria ;)
Posted @ 8/10/2006 11:17 AM
# re: Evacuuated..

Funny as usual :)

Good one!
Posted @ 8/10/2006 4:33 AM
# re: Evacuuated..
@Navin: thanx man !! Keep visiting

@Naveen : Hmm a bakery eh?Sounds good !!On the wedding front i wanted to put a post but somehow me n my wife can never agree on the the series of events which led to my wedding. So no post yet:-( But do keep visiting. it might be my next

@ Archie: Its like one of those fads when everyone wants one- later on eeryone is too lazy when u realize its just a glorified broom and rather live the the germs than spare time to vacuum regularly

@ Koch : Likewisea

@ silverine : Congrats (?) on being the first to comment !! You win yourself a brand new Eureka Forbes vacuum cleaner ! Contact Harry for the prize (HE is not the prize btw)

btw i guess Eureka Forbes was one of the first to introduce a "salesman-doin- housevisits" sort of a business model. We had the first mover advantage on this new product - or say "First sucker advantage"!! Keep visiting ma'am ..wish i could keep up posting new and damn good posts as frequently as u do.
Posted @ 8/10/2006 1:06 AM
# re: Evacuuated....
nice post :D
Posted @ 8/9/2006 3:49 PM
# re: Evacuuated....
A nice post after a long break... like u,i 2 had decided upon my destiny...I wld own a Bakery!!!yes,thts rite,a bakery!!!hehe... pinne kalyanam okke kazhinjo??aathinte news onnum kandilla!!
Posted @ 8/9/2006 1:55 PM
# re: Evacuuated....
'Harry' brought back memories of our Eureka Forbes sales man. Its uncany how many people have had a similar experience with the vaccum cleaner. Ours is now taken out as a matter of ritual for our pre-Diwali cleaning
Posted @ 8/9/2006 10:04 AM
# re: Evacuuated....
Kollaam ttoo..
Posted @ 8/8/2006 11:12 AM
# re: Evacuuated....
I can't believe it..I am first!!!!! Yoohooo!!!!

p.s. thanks for clarifying the 'silverfish' thingie...*whew* that was close.
Posted @ 8/8/2006 8:00 AM
# re: Evacuuated....

I remember the 'Harry' that came for a demo to my house. After a spellbinding display of vaccuming, my Dad asked how much he, i.e. 'Harry' would cost ;) Since we already had a Vaccum cleaner, he tried his stunts with the ladies in the neighourhood. One of the sure fire methods of selling was leaving the contraption in the ladies' house and then coming back a month or so later and by that time the lady would have used it and would thus buy it. The Eureka Salesmen were our first taste of 'Salesmanship' in its purest 'avataars'. I think this post will bring back a lot of memories for a lot of victims er...I mean customers lol

Great post!!!

p.s. you have linked me to Yahoo Mail!!

Vidwata said...

was a great read! good to have stumbled here!