Clock that stood the test of time

Clock that stood the test of time


It’s odd how something as common as a clock can become a vital part of one’s working life.

With its big white dial and circular wooden frame, it was just an ordinary clock that didn’t merit a second look. Yet, I don’t think any other timekeeper could’ve drawn such varied glances — bored, disgusted, relieved, appreciative et al — as did the one in the headquarters of the British tea conglomerate I worked for in Munnar.

Mounted high on the wall, we literally looked up to it as much as it looked down on us time-seekers. For it was the official timekeeper that every employee followed, especially when it was time for the lunch break or to wind up for the day.

Indeed, many meticulously, and sometimes peevishly, compared the time it showed with that of their watches. If the clock was running slow, peon Dhas would be asked to wind and correct it pronto. For, except when absolutely necessary, few savoured the idea of working beyond duty hours especially if it was lunch time — quite understandable since we started work at the ‘unearthly’ hour of 8 am. However, if the clock was running fast, as it sometimes did, no one really bothered since everyone could leave early!

Catching a chronic clock-watcher glancing at the clock too often, a British boss once remarked sarcastically, “You don’t have to keep an eye on the clock. Nobody’s going to steal it!” When the clock’s hands came together at 12 noon — it never struck the hour — the clickety-clack of typewriters and the noisy telephone calls would ebb gradually, signalling the exodus for lunch. Alerted by the lull, our bosses would soon emerge from their rooms, sometimes looking (so it seemed) as if they’d done more than enough work to justify a hearty meal!

On New Year’s Day, the office traditionally closed at 10.30 am to enable employees to go home and celebrate as well as to catch up on sleep lost due to the previous night’s revelry. It was then that the office clock drew far more glances from us than even a shapely model would have! Soon enough, the office would look as deserted as a graveyard.

Now the old clock, a relic of the past, hangs forlorn and forgotten in the company’s tea museum where curious tourists gawk at it — a decrepit exhibit whose hands are stilled forever. Yet, it evokes memories tinged with nostalgia for many former employees like me, who recall eyeing it impatiently as the break or closing time neared.