Sunday, January 6, 2013

A matter of Time

the other evening, as i was walking back home, a small boy on a bicycle asked ‘uncle, time eshtu?
it was 6.50 in the evening, but i yelled out ‘6.45’ and kept walking.
assuming, that the boy just wanted to get an approximate time!
while most of our lives these days seem to be governed or controlled by time, having periods in our lives unconcerned about the exact time – is very relaxing.
maybe that is why many vacations are so refreshing.
Time was – pun intended – when, as school kids who love to be out playing on the streets till we really must get back home – we used to track time by predictable events..
when we hear ‘Balaji, time for your homework’ – it would be 6.30.
if we hear ‘Ranga, Thyagu, Cheenu… time for your sandhyavandanam’, it will be 7 PM
or, it is really time to get home when we hear ‘Sundar anna, help me with my homework. have to finish this assignment and go to sleep’ because it would be 7.30..
When we were in Mumbai, it was initially strange to see that even distances are measured in time.
How far is Borivali? – about 42 minutes by fast local!
i see that used in Bangalore also. we need to plan not based on distances, but on time it might take to get past the bottlenecks.
and one of the popular topics of conversation at parties is how long it took someone – i had to wait for 7 minutes at the xxx junction; or how happy someone was, to have made it in just 45 minutes.
getting back to the main trigger for this post – as i walked further, i noticed that there were about 40% of the people without wrist watches.
But probably less than 10% without cell phones. and among those that had one, more than half of them talking – while standing, walking, driving etc..
and all cell phones have a clock.
why are wrist watches still popular?
back home, i did a spot inventory of the wrist watches lying around.
clocks 001clocks 002
i could not find my first watch – that i got as a gift for my upanayanam - to also help me with my SSLC exam, a SEIKO.
but i found the newest addition to the collection
clocks 015
a cheap watch that came free with a cereal box!
at that time, automatic watches that get wound by the normal arm movements was a major advancement in technology.
that was till the debut of quartz watches.
watches were associated with significant events, rites of passage etc. anniversaries..
i still wear a moon phase watch that i got as a company gift for completing 10 years of service.. for the last 22 years!
clocks 006
this clock was presented by my father to his, from his first salary.
clocks 012
when i had taken this to the horologist, he was very impressed that i still had this hand wound beauty. vintage circa 1930..
when i asked him if he could change the dial face or get some paint on the body, he was scandalized.. advising that i  could even think of such an action.
retirement is another milestone.
my father got this clock in 1973. and it still works. though has its own mind to stop from time to time, and will function again, after a little cajoling.
clocks 014
watches are also considered jewellery. there are special supplements in the  papers on luxury – that would not be complete without a section on watches.
with the era of digital watches, i cannot forget two images:
the first from a Dennis the menace cartoon – where Dennis complains when Mr Wilson gets a Digital clock – that he had to get it after Dennis learnt how to tell the time on an analog clock!
and the second  from one of my all time favourite books – the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy –  ‘planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea’
and this morning, i understood why it still makes sense to have old-style watches..
my smartphone had run out of battery overnight and did not go off at the set time.
it was a Sunday morning and so, no dependent damage done..
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