03 August, 2021

Asli Indian Standard Time

Time past, time present and possibility fuse at the horologist’s

Illustration by Sorit
Asli Indian Standard Time

Clocks and watches, pocket watches in particular, have gripped me since I can remember. As a child, I was fascinated by a stooping ghari-saaz who used to come to our home in Connaught Circus, New Delhi, the magic chabi in his hand, to go straight to the two wall clocks we had, stand up on any chair that could be found, move the hour and minute hands about, ponder the dial, set the time and go away as wordlessly as he came.

Some years later, in Chennai, when my nana’s pocket watch, a dainty piece of British make, began to lose time, I offered to take the irregularly pulsating disc to P. Orr & Sons, the hoary horologist on Mount Road, to have it set right. I was shown into a corridor where, to my teenage eyes, several men, each looking as ancient as my nana, or almost, were stooped over some watch or other, peering into its innards through eye-glasses that fitted into the socket of each one’s good eye like a bulb into its holder. The company set the watch right and my nana regained that part of his comfort level with...

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