Living arrangement

Cool factor

6:45 PM

Once upon a time, a fridge, was, well just a fridge, purely utilitarian, functional, sturdy, a bit blocky and rather plain, with wire shelves and a robe of white, grey or silver. The fanciest had a separate door on top to host the freezer section, and an egg rack and butter compartment in the refrigerator. The only freebie was one or two supremely basic white ice cube trays, the type you had to twist in your hand or bang on the kitchen counter in order to get a few rocks for your drink.
That is what I grew up with in Switzerland, and that’s what DH and I got when we settled down in Chennai 7 years ago. That very same fridge still sits in our home today, after numerous relocation trips, and accusing signs of age, while still working fine I might add, though we had to save its life with a timer transplant 2 years ago after it failed us and we almost left it for dead, and the only harm it came to since then was during our Navi Mumbai  to Bangalore shift, when for a mysterious reason one front foot broke and went missing between the two homes. An injury we tried to  to mend with a crafty prosthetic, namely a good old steel thali bowl that happened to be just the right height. That wasn’t a perfect solution though as the fridge would often slip off it’s artificial limb and been thrown off balance in the process, with us screaming at each other for help to get it back steady.
For crazy reasons we are yet to explain the prosthetic foot doesn’t fit as well in our new Mumbai home, and now our elderly cooling unit adopted a backward tilt that doesn’t look too healthy, with its front portion higher than its rear, glitch which ends up trapping us each time we open the door as it will close back on us during a simple milk retrieval procedure.
Truth be told, we could have called the LG people in February when we first faced the problem, they would have brought a new leg, and our fridge would have probably looked more happy on a genuine leg, but we were already plotting to sent it to its last resting place and trade it for a younger model. A plan that got side-tracked due to the lack of money stability, but we started eyeing fridges out and comparing them last October.
The reason behind our plan was fairly simple; see when we bought our fridge in 2004, we were young, starting in life, and had limited funds, a fridge with a freezer compartment with a total capacity of 240 litres was sufficient and did fit our budget, we had a good vegetable market in our street, supermarkets were in their infancy stage still and all was well. over the years and a few moves later, we had access to a less good vegetable market, supermarkets started offering more, and we found ourselves starting our now routine weekly grocery shopping trip, stocking up on everything from juice to veggies passing by cheese and meat product. So much so our tiny fridge started to be a bit tight. One weekly supermarket mission was all it took for us to get to play a 3D game of Tetris back home, cramming the fridge full, arranging boxes and juice cartons in the best way possible to maximise the space available, and the real challenge inevitably came when it was time to take something out of the said fridge, turning 3D Tetris into a Mikado game, you know the good old game of wooden picks you need to remove from the pile without making the other move? Yes taking the cheese out without triggering an avalanche of fresh produce was becoming a must acquire skill, there is nothing more irritating than having to clean a the result of a dahi pot crash, and of course the vegetable tray had it so bad that each time we wanted a tomato we had many bags of curry leaves coriander and greens to remove first and then find something limp and vaguely orange that might have been a healthy carrot in a past life, but ended up being forgotten under a pile of greens. Forget storing a watermelon in there, not much else would fit beside it, the time for a change came in Navi Mumbai when the only day left for grocery operations was Sunday and the exasperation of playing 3D Tetris became strong.
In Bangalore we not only had no money, we were also very fortunate to live in an area where there was many store in a walk able distance, so much so I didn’t have the need to  stock up as much as before, but with a toddler with a growing food requirement, we are now 3 people eating and needing the fridge…
So much so, we decided to restart our quest for a bigger refrigerator, and I say restart, because it seems that in the world of appliances the items go out of fashion and production as fast as in the garment industry. With many of the models we saw last October apparently having gone obsolete, the good side of the change however are lower prices.
And the pinnacle of fridge fashion seem to be side by side refrigerator, judging by the many models available in every brands. They are big, glossy, swanky, smart with embellishment such as golden handles, flower patterns, and boast features such as water dispensers and ice cube makers, with some models even having an intelligent ice maker allowing you to get the exact number and size of rocks to top your drink, some wine racks inside the fridge, and possibly a mini-bar, and a huge freezer compartment.
Oh yes! they look the part, they are imposing and the most basic model could be yours for around 50, unless you have over one lakh to spend on one with a minibar option.
But of course there is a catch, these behemoth take a tremendous amount of kitchen space that many older apartment in the country do not have, and with their swanky little water/ice dispenser, they need to be plugged to a main source of water, making keeping the unit in your living room a bit silly if you don’t happen to have tapped water there.
DH and I live in a newer building which has a kitchen big enough for a small one of these new kitchen supermodels, but the second factor to consider if you want to be practical is the capacity of the fridge, and how that total litre capacity is divided between the freezer and the fridge. And for a 500+ litres capacity, these have a surprisingly small fridge section, as a fair amount of the gross capacity goes to the freezer side. Nothing wrong with it, except that India hasn’t a big frozen good culture yet, prompting both DH and I to wonder where was the use of such a big freezer, he’s thought is that maybe an expat might find it more useful, but I pointed to him that I was an expat, and used to using freezers for a lot of stuff, and I couldn't;t see the use for such a thing here in India. there aren’t such massive promotion on meat that would prompt me to stock up when it is cheap, there are no frozen dinner for lazy days, and there is just a limit of how much bread, cakes and muffins I can bake for storage, or how many packs of French fries I need in a year to make such a freezer fully rentable, while urban dwellers in India are slowly shifting to a weekly shopping trip, a lot of people in Europe are used to the monthly whole sale hypermart trips to restock their pantry and freezer with their monthly salary food allowance, what makes sense in one place doesn’t necessarily applies to the rest of the world.
Yet if you believe advertisement, and medias, India should not live without these super fridges and they seem to be pushed into your face regardless which home appliances outlet you shop at.
Our need for practicality had us play deaf and blind to sales pitches and prominent display of these fashionable things,  going deeper in the maze of cooling units to find one that met our apparently not so IT crowd requirements: at least 350 preferably higher  gross capacity, a fridge/freezer ration strongly in favour of the fridge, no fancy schmancy shelves destined to hold only one type of good as we need some flexibility in our storage solution (meaning wine racks are stupid enough in our book).
Turns out that if you found the size of a side by side interesting before opening it, you have the option to find a classic 2 doors unit which has the fridge at the bottom and the smaller freezer on top like the units of yesteryears, but is as wide as their swanky fashionable counterpart. Meaning you get more space in your refrigerator section and get to have a freezer big enough to hold the usual frozen stuff fare you find around without having you feel obligated to fill it more with stuff you might not need. Some have a water dispenser too, that will operate while manually filling a tank instead of hooking it to the tap.
In the end this is that type of unit we selected, 500 litres, no frills shelves giving us the freedom of space management, and as an added bonus, yes ours has a water dispenser, not that it was one on of specific requirement, but we aren’t going to complain about it.
The said fridge will be delivered to us during the week, and we are now officially set for the decade to come, unless we expand our little family to something huge which is unlikely going to be the case. Fashion and style statement not being our thing at all, that fridge will probably be with us until it reaches its natural life end, who cares if in in 10 years from now they will come with models serving fresh smooties and ice cream wonders?


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