Monday, October 24, 2011

Time after time

Imagine yourself stranded somewhere remote, without a watch. The movement of the sun is the only way you can tell the time. And maybe the hunger in your stomach. Wouldn't you go a little bit crazy? I would. I always have to know the time. But I hate wearing a watch, and the only watch I have is lying inside some unused bag. Yet I get on nicely without it, what with mobile phones and computers telling the time and you always have one or the other nearby, and in the rare event that you are stranded without either one you can always ask people around you, and in the rarest event that you find yourself alone without anyone around.. well that's a bit unlikely to happen.

You know what comes to mind? Prisoners scratching the dates on prison walls. Count of Monte Cristo specifically. Maybe a little bit of Robinson Crusoe. Yes I know he was not a prisoner, he was marooned; but he still scratched the dates on rocks (I think). Same difference.

Let's assume that it's a Saturday and I am stuck in the house without any means of telling the time. Here is how I would know what time it is (approximately).

Because of the Telangana employees granting themselves holidays, the whole city of Hyderabad suffers from daily power cuts, anywhere between two and six hours. In our area the allotted time is between six and eight in the morning, and then twelve to two in the afternoon.

So on this watch-less day I wake up and find that the lights are still on. I look at my window and find that it's not yet daylight, so I know that it's before 6 AM. I go back to sleep, and when the lights go out and and the fan stops whirring, I know it must be exactly 6.

8 AM and the lights come back, and I can hear the caretaker sweeping the verandah.

The neighbour's baby cries like somebody dropped an anvil on her foot, so I know it's around 8:30 and her mother is giving her a bath. A cold one, no doubt.

This is when the fun begins.

We live in a residential area, and there are no shops in the immediate neighbourhood. So from morning until evening a dozen or so vendors, selling everything from artificial flowers to fresh fish would come along, peddling their wares and shouting in their own unique ways.

The first one to make his presence known is the Idli-Dosa guy. He doesn't come everyday, but I've heard his shout a few times. Maybe it's because there are not many bachelors in the area.

At around 9:53 comes the leafy vegetables guy, shouting "Kotmeer, Palakka", which are coriander and spinach respectively. Housewives drop down their baskets or polythene covers from upstairs apartments and he makes a good sale every morning.

And then comes the most irritating Saturday morning regular. The religious guy. Comes to our colony around 11-ish, drives around in a small van/cart thing, adorned with numerous pictures of his innumerable gods, burning this and that incense and playing the loudest devotional songs. It must be a famous song because I've heard people use it as their mobile phone ringtones.

The power goes off, and I know it's noon. And when it comes back I know it's 2 PM.

At 4 PM the samosa fellows come cycling, after which the next regular event is at midnight when the local watchman patrols the street, tapping the road loudly with his cane. Although you know it's only one man with a stick who's guarding your colony, hearing that tap-tap in the night when everything's gone quiet can be really comforting.

All through the day you have the paper-vendors and the fruit vendors coming through. Then you have the occasional fishman, the artificial flowers ladies, the broom lady, the flowers-you-wear-in-the-hair man, the bedsheets and cushion covers people, and the ice-cream man.

That's about it. A day in the life, a watch-less day.


  1. Hun hriat hi a pawimawh khawp mai, a lovin kan awm theilo a ni ber awm e.

    North pole velah chuan awm la ia hyper fia fia ngawt ang a :)

  2. Haha chuti em emin ka hyper lo, just want to know what's happening around me is all.

  3. I sometimes hate the way we are so SLAVE to time. Talking about time,Pink Floyd's 'Time' is one of my all time favs.

  4. So true. Time dictates our lives, when in fact it should be the other way round.