An urban legend is now an international myth

Some time in the mid-1990s, word went around that washing machines were selling like, well, hot parathas  on the Grand Trunk road. Apparently the machines were being used by dhabas who were using them to whip up lassis. An interesting yarn to spin over a few kababs.

Now, in the year of the lord 2008, the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank Corporation (HSBC) has taken out print and television ads drumming home the gobbledygook. In fact, an ad in the New Yorker, hails washing machines as a “best-selling yoghurt-blender”.

Also see: Can this lassi ad be true?

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15 Responses to “An urban legend is now an international myth”

  1. ಕನ್ನಡಿಗ Says:

    I for India… I for Innovation.

  2. Tathagata Mukherji Says:

    Somewhere in the net you will find a video (guess by a leading American TV channel) showing in the seeming chaos of urban India business thrives. A computer training center with two computers running from sack. Management Guru CK Prahlad explained why this is the future of capitalism, efficiency and west will have to fight these people who are incredibly adapted.

    This ad however is a racist one and unlikely to be true. But one thing is certain, economic future belongs to asia and if our politicians don;t screw up big time (there is a possiblity due to votebank politics), we shd do better- much better.

  3. Coffee addict Says:

    In my place (Shimoga – Chikmagalur) condom sales (mainly Super thin Durex and dotted condoms!) have gone up 10 times. Because, all mechanics and pumpset users use condom to stop leackage of water, petrol, diesel, Kerosene etc……

  4. Gokulam 3rd Stage Says:

    Racist? How?

    Unlikely to be true? Guess not. I’ve seen my lassi order being scooped out of a washing machine in a dhaba near Ludhiana. Besides, one of those umpteen travel shows in the early part of the decade featured dhaba food and showed one with a washing machine happily churning lassi in the corner. It does exist. Whether it is a widespread phenomenon or not is the question.

  5. Narayana Says:

    There is another equally incredulous story by one executive of Revlon USA. Read it at

  6. Chokka Lingam, LA, USA Says:

    But one thing is certain, economic future belongs to asia and if our politicians don’t screw up big time ……..??????

    I see the country taking 1 step forward and 2 steps backward

  7. Palahalli Says:

    I don’t think this commercial is racist. It frames our vibrant, colorful life, hospitality toward visitors and the urge to “make do” with what is available, to innovate.

    To make this ad truly “racist”, that washing machine would have to be shown idle and rusting :)

  8. smz Says:

    Modified Washing machines are also used for making butter milk and preparing dough for chapatis, in many free kitchens in and around gujarat. in fact there are giant machines also that take wheat flour and water, and give out fresh chapatis without the touch of a human hand. mostly used in kitchens of religious places, to feed thousands of devotees at a time with very few volunteers.

  9. Salty Says:

    Listerine, used to be sold as a “floor cleaner” once. It didn’t have much sales . It was then introduced as a mouthwash and sales figures went through the roof.

    or for that matter Personal “Computer” is heavily used for writing documents & emails replacing typewriters & postal mails. Theres nothing really computational about these tasks.

    And now your smart “phone” is everything else besides a phone. Its a camera cum music player cum net-surfer etc.etc….

    Duing festival time in South India, the sales of house-paints would go up. They are used to paint horns of cows.

    Sometimes “adapted usage” can overshadow “intended usage.” A smart company is one which detects this change & makes money out of it.

  10. Purvi Says:

    I’d heard abt this almost like 10yrs back…but never thought it could be used for promos also :P
    I agree wid ‘Salty’ …. most of the things are invented for some other purpose then wht they are being used as

  11. sisya Says:

    Those BPL ads back in the 90s featuring Amitabh also mentioned this ‘phenomenon’… along with a couple of others like “My country’s contribution to the world – zero”… and something about using turmeric as insulation or something. This HSBC ad is in some ways plagiarised from those BPL ads.

  12. Faldo Says:

    I was told by some that these machines were custom made churning units, which just happened to resemble washing machines. However, reading about WMs that whip up lassi makes for it more interesting, which probably gave rise to this myth.

  13. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    I remember good ol’ Surabhi showing this innovative use of Washing Machines more than a decade back!

  14. Basaveshwara Nagar Says:

    talking about urban legends..
    the much marketed potency drug, Viagra, was initially researched to be a heart drug!!!

  15. Prashanth Says:

    Here is a picture.

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