Friday, January 13, 2012
The rise and fall of clocks, diaries and calendars
What technology has done to our seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years. Now we track the time of our life through watches, cell phones, laptops and ipads – there was a time when that stern grandfather clock on the wall and the stark calendar on the wall helped us know the hours, days and dates .
How childhood memories are entwined with stern clock and stern calendar !
As a child I used to wake up to the six thongs of the clock and linger till it would thong once again at half past six.
The sounds between these thongs would invariably be a Ghantasala’s Bhagavadgita or MS Subbalakshmi’s suprabhatam. Occasionally I would hear KL Saigal singing ‘Soja Rajakumari’ and my dad crooning along with him- only thing is this Rajakumari had to wake up !
The 7 thongs from the clock would begin to set the pace of the day and the 8 thongs would send us racing out of the cosy home to the big world out there !
The metallic sounds of the school bells would give us the track of time and how we loved those long bells signaling either lunch breaks or time to go home! From then till clock thonged at 7, time just flew by - playing pittu or hide n seek ! The villainous clock would break the best time of the day and compel us go back to books and studies. The 2 hours till the clock would thong 9 times, were the longest hours of the day ! Dinner at 9 thongs and sleep at 10 thongs was like heaven until the 6 thongs on the next morning. How life was time tabled by a clock !
Evolution: From a stern professional look, clocks have come a long way. A variety of sizes, colors, designs to meet the changing tastes of 21st century humans. However the importance of a clock has been hijacked by fancy watches and now gradually by cell phones. Watches and clocks are single function devices – they don’t have great place in a 21st century life where multi function device like a cell phone keeps track of not just time !
Another sound was the soft rustling of the calendar dancing to the winds caused either by nature or by fan-until my dad would clip its waves and hold it tight, it would dance till we give attention to its square boxes and bold numbers ! How those black numbers reminded of the working days and those bright red numbers indicating holidays would give us joy ! Telugu calendar flying in the kitchen would do its duty of telling mom the best time of the day and the avoidable time. Rahukalam, varjyam and subhamuhurtam- a calendar would decide the fate of the day!
From plain looks to colorful pictures of gods and nature, the calendar has come a long way. In fact calendars adorned the walls like great pieces of art ! How they made the best gifts- the pride in the giver and the joy in the taker is something worth a ‘kodak moment’. Table top calendars gained a lot of fanfare after walls have become prime properties for displaying works of art. Customized calendars with family pictures, business houses printing calendars with clients’ names in sky and highways, pocket calendars-but all efforts are slowly waning.
Because we outgrow our own habits-
A modern home does not have a suitable place for calendars anymore and also its not the ‘in thing’ now. When calendars are losing their niche, Vijay Mallya is the sole fighter to keep them alive- Kingfisher calendar is hot property !
Diaries acted as our managers, friends and reminders. We penned our feelings, thoughts and actions. Pages of a diary helped parents find the escapades of their children, police find the culprits, people manage their work, leaders write their memoirs, anne frank narrate her imprisoned days and teenagers pour out their infatuation, poets write their verses, lyricists write their songs and writers record their occasional thoughts . What an intimate role a diary played in our lives and how the technology hijacked it all !
In the beginning we waited for using the old diaries of my dad, slowly we started getting our own diaries and now a stage has come where we look for people who can take away the complimentary diaries piled up on our tables.
Oh the inimitable diary- how dear it is to me even now ! Videos and pictures cannot do what a diary does to make us closer to my dad. We treasure his diaries like family heirlooms. From the social conditions of 1940s to cultural changes from 1990s, book reviews and bill payments, family trips and Fixed deposits, escapades of grand children and movements of children-he recorded it all.
I wonder if our techno diaries can give any such memories to the next gen. What with system crashes and virus attacks, our thoughts may be carried forward or be buried along with us !!!
In my lifetime – I have seen the rise and fall of diaries and calendars but I do hope that the precious time and feelings they preserved will always stay with us