Going by a stop-watch

Going by a stop-watch


I am rude to people who arrive late at other peoples’ parties. Instead of minding my own business, I have made it a fetish that has afflicted me and made my one time friends regard me as a crackpot and keep their distance from me.

I no longer go with an ordinary watch but abide by the dictates of a stop-watch. There were many people who observed strict punctuality without boasting about it. The most famous of this breed was Bapu Gandhi. He had a large pocket watch dangling down his dhoti. Amongst the living is Lord Swaraj Pal. He regards coming before time also improper. Whenever he visits me he stays in his car till it is the exact time he has fixed. My notion of punctuality includes imposing it on other people as well. Most people resent my doing so and have stopped visiting me.

One incident sticks in my memory. I was in Aurangabad staying in a hotel. Next to the reception desk it had life-size picture of Sahi Baba. The atmosphere was very relaxed as all their guests on holidays came to visit the Ajanta and Ellora caves. Ajanta was two hours’ drive in one direction. Ellora was an hour’s drive in another. Guests kept different times for their meals. It was not acceptable to me. I wanted my meals on the dot I had told the manager. He coined a name for me: ‘Waqt ka paband Singh’ - bonded slave of time. It could not be a compliment but I took it as one.

Hidden hand

A recent incident has shaken my belief in rationality. Poonam Sidhu who is an expert on matters connected with taxes has been transferred from Chandigarh to Delhi. She rang me up and asked if she could drop in to say hellow. She is as good-looking as she is brainy without a pause. I asked her to come the next day. The next morning, Punguin (India) sent me a copy of the new edition of my novella, Burial At Sea. I had forgotten I had dedicated it to her and her husband. If she had come a day earlier, I could not have shown her the edition. It could not be a matter of mere coincidence. Was there a hidden hand behind the incident?

A vanished friend

Around the corner I have a friend
In this great city that has no end,
Yet the days go by and weeks rush on,
And before I know it, a year is gone.
And I never see my old friends face,
For life is a swift and terrible race,
He knows I like him just as well
As in the days when I rang his bell.
And he rang mine
If, we were younger then,
And now we are busy, tired men,
Tired of playing a foolish game,
Tired of trying to make a name.
“Tomorrow” I say, “I will call on Jim”
“Just to show that I’m thinking of him.”
And tomorrow comes and
Tomorrow goes, and distance
Between us grows and grows.
Around the corner - yet miles away,
Here’s a telegram, sir,
Jim died today.
And that’s what we get and
Deserve in the end
Around the corner, a vanished friend.

(Courtesy: Henson Towne)

Candid about whisky

A politician was asked about his attitude towards whisky. Here are his candid comments:
“If you mean the demon drink that poisons the mind, pollutes the body and desecrates family life, then I’m against it. But if you mean the elixir of life, the shield against chill, the taxable potions that puts needed funds into public coffers then I’m for it. This is my position and I’ll not compromise.

Money matter

Workers earn it, spendthrifts burn it, bankers lend it, forgers fake it, swindlers swindle it, taxmen take it, people dying leave it, heirs receive it, thrifty people save it, misers crave it, rich increase it, robbers seize it, gamblers stake it - we could use it.

(Contributed by R P Chaddah, Chandigarh)