Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Did you Vacuum Clean Today?

There were two families living in the same street of the small town as we did, some fifty years ago.  The two families were headed by two brothers.  Their big ancestral house and other properties including agricultural lands was divided between them equally.  Elder brother occupied the eastern portion of the house and the younger brother occupied the western part.  Both were teachers by profession and commanded respect from the community, respect earned by their polished and courteous behavior.  The two families lived in perfect harmony and their children too had excellent relationship between them.  More importantly, the two wives, co-sisters as many would like to call, were like twin sisters.

Now a question may arise as to what is the purpose of this piece when everything is just perfect.  The two brothers differed in their views about sharing responsibilities of daily life.  The system of sharing routine work taught and practiced in the family were different.  Elder brother believed that the work should be shared by all the children at home irrespective of the nature of work.  All children, boys or girls, were expected to wash their respective clothes and clean their plates after taking food. Any child could be asked to attend outdoor work like bringing the items for daily use from shops.  The practice in the younger brother's house was totally different.  All indoor work was to be done by the girls and outdoor work was the exclusive domain of the boys.  A girl child would not be asked to go to the market for bringing vegetables or such other items.  No boy was asked to wash clothes or clean dishes.  This made an interesting study for me.  There were no such rigid rules in our own house; any child could be asked to do any work assigned to them.  Assignment of work depended basically on the nature of work, age of the child and capacity to carry out the desired purpose.  Both brothers were right in their own way though opinions may differ when the practices are viewed and evaluated in present times.

Much water has flowed under and over the bridge in fifty years.  Society and its outlook has changed enormously in this time span and there is little difference between men and women today as far as handling different jobs are considered.  Women are still discriminated against, but the spirit has indeed changed for the better. From running houses to flying planes and venturing into outer space, there is no bar and girls have been eminently successful in all vocations.  Many families are encouraging their daughters to take up professional jobs which were exclusive male bastions some years ago.  When both husband and wife are engaged in matching professional pursuits, sharing of work at home also becomes equally important.  Some men are excellent cooks, but the kitchen work still stays with the wife generally.  When the tasks are identified and apportioned, vacuum cleaning generally falls on the husbands side.  This provides an excellent chance to the wife to keep reminding the husband every week: "Have you vacuum cleaned today?"

One husband who was allotted vacuum cleaning at home did his job faithfully for several months.  But he probably disliked the job or disliked even more being reminded by the wife again and again.  There is a maxim in HRD: assign the toughest job to the laziest person in the team.  He will find the easiest way to do it, finish it fast and get back to lazying!  This young man could never be accused of being lazy. But he was innovative.  He found out an excellent way of getting the house vacuum cleaned - he did lot of research and found out about Neato.

Neato is a robot vacuum cleaner; only it does not look like a Rajanikanth model Robot. It looks just like a simple weighing scale. It is battery operated an is smart.  Armed with a 360 degree laser range finder, it scans the room, maps and plans its work and later systematically cleans the entire room.  Its sensors enable it to avoid obstacles like furniture, walls, stairs and even pets.  Its boundary markers tell Neato where not to go.  It can remove all the hairs dropped by pets like cats and dogs.  It takes care of itself and cleans all floor surfaces.  The dirt is collected in a dirt bin inside the robot and can be emptied.  No need for trash bags and recurring expenditure in buying such bags.  Filters provided in it can be changed periodically to make it more effective.  Its blades and batteries can be replaced. When the battery is replaced in the middle of the cleaning, it starts from where it left off and there is no need to set it again!
Now "Neato" vacuum cleans when the husband plays with his other electronic gadgets. He now has an assistant in "Neato" which is not a sweeper but a real vacuum cleaner.  He may be advising his friends (other husbands) to spend $ 400 to $500 on a "Neato" and avoid the frequent question form their wives: "Have you vacuum cleaned today?"
Of course, he may not know what the wife is thinking.  She must be thinking of another assignment for him to protect her right to go on asking that favorite question:  "Did you"!   


  1. Very very interesting. I must ask my husband to get me one neato now,even though I have not assigned any job for him.I think there is no end to innovations.

  2. Neato! looks really neat, and It must be doing neat job also! we should own one.

  3. I enjoyed reading your latest blog on Vacuum Cleaning.I had been missing you blogs since your website was no reachable for the past few months.

  4. Moving on from Neato, the more important point here is sharing of work. When women have started sharing the responsibility of earning along with men, it is the responsibility of men to shoulder equal responsibility in doing household chores. The balance must somehow be maintained. Partnership should not be a burden to any one partner, not even in the name of love or society or bonds.

  5. Narration is as clean as cleaning by Neato.
    When the maid servant is absent, sharing of work makes everyone happy whether you have machines to do it or not. My favourite sharing of work is washing the clothes. Very easy. Put all the clothes into
    washing machine, put soap powder and switch it on. Your part of shared work is done!!

  6. very nice article - and an interesting flow of thought from sharing of work in Indian families to a robot vacuum cleaner! As to whether the wife will think of another task for the young man to do, of course she will. It is the wife's birthright to keep pestering the husband and if it's not vacuum cleaning she will think of something else!

  7. great article. Give me interesting ideas to ask my husband , Did you do that!


  8. Very nice as usual

  9. Enjoyed reading this article, more so because I could picture the couple while reading the last two paragraph!

  10. Enjoyed reading this article. Of course could identify the couple!!

  11. nice one.. sharing work between couples isthe order of the day as both of them go out to work