Why You Won’t Get The Time Of The Day From Me

This piece is set in the days of mechanically wound analog wrist-watches:

I was waiting to meet up with the bank’s branch manager and get a few forms attested. That’s when

He came in clutching a Trichy-Malaikottai-Pillayar cloth bag folded tightly over its contents and stopped before the counters in the hall. It took a little while to sink in as he surveyed the scene – the counters were deserted. He didn’t know why.

‘It is not lunch time yet, looks like they’re gone already. And in the morning they’re not in their seat until 9-30. You don’t believe me? Go and see the brass plate outside – clearly says the bank opens at 9-00 am. Who is to pull them up – it’s all their Raj.’

Standing a few feet away I couldn’t help hearing him mutter to no one in particular. In fact there was no one in the near about. The crowd had melted away and the remaining few paid no attention to the rant of this man – that’s Mumbai for you.

He was a pensioner, I guessed. I stepped up to him and inquired:

‘Sir, what’s the time by your watch?’


‘I won’t give it to you.’

‘Sir, but why?’ I was pulled up short by his response.

‘See, if I tell you the time you will definitely thank me and may be tomorrow again you will ask me the time.

I quickly recovered: ’Quite possible.’

‘May be we meet two three times more and you will ask my name and address.’

By now I was sufficiently piqued to see where this was going: ‘Quite possible.’

‘One day you may come to my house saying you were just passing by and came into wish me. Then as a courtesy, I will offer you a cup of tea. After my courteous approach you will try to come again. This time you will appreciate tea and ask who has made it.’


‘Then I will tell you that my daughter has and I will then have to introduce my young and pretty daughter to you ; you will admire my daughter.‘

I smile, now getting the drift.

‘Now onwards you will try to meet my daughter again and again. You will offer her to go out for a movie together and a date with you.’

I let him run with it.

‘My daughter may start liking you and start waiting for you. After meeting regularly you will fall in love with her and propose her for marriage. One day both of you will come to me and tell me about your love and ask for my permission.’

‘Could happen, one never knows.’

‘See, you too agree it’s a possibility. I’m never wrong. Young man, since you asked me for time, it means one of the three things: You can’t afford a watch of your own and I’ll never marry my daughter to a person like you who does not even own a watch; or it may be that you lost yours and I’ll not never marry my daughter to a careless person who couldn’t keep even a watch safe; or, you’ve one and it isn’t working and I cannot marry my daughter to a person who is so lazy as not to get his things mended. And leans on others.’

‘And to nip it all in the bud, I won’t give you the time,’ he rested his logic.

Fixing him with an amused look and without a word, I pulled back the cuff of my shirt-sleeve to reveal a polished-chrome as-good-as-new Seiko black-dial.

‘Young man, what’s the idea? It’s a joke? If it is, it is not appreciated at all, to let you know.’

Pointing to the West-End on his wrist, I explained: ‘Sir, kindly don’t be offended. When I asked you for the time by your watch, I was merely trying to point out your watch may have stopped. It’s 1-30 pm now, well beyond the working hours. And you thought they had closed early.

He was annoyed at the possibility indicated, but couldn’t rule it out. He glared at the unmoving hands of his watch and held it up against his ear. Failed to detect any motion. Some shaking of the hand and the act repeated. No dice.

‘Blasted thing. This isn’t the first time it has let me down,’ he regretfully admitted, looking a little out of steam.

He removed his watch and wound it up. Ready to set the hands right, he turned to me:

‘Young man, what is the time by your watch?’

‘Pardon me, Sir, I won’t give it to you. If I do, next thing, you’ll ask me for a pen to fill up the deposit slips. Then, you’ll want to know about the prevailing interest rates and tax implications. And then, how about some investment advice


Well, I didn’t say it. I was glad I didn’t. Quite affably I showed him the wall-clock on the far side and moved on to meet the manager.


Credits: openclipart.com (spaventapasseri) and wackywits.com


4 Responses to Why You Won’t Get The Time Of The Day From Me

  1. Kannan says:

    NIce piece Raghu. A hyperbole perhaps, but how often we let our imaginations run this way, unfortunately negatively.
    Can we expect your usual Monday item also tomorrow


  2. Shyam Maheshwari says:

    i use a mechanical watch, it is now over twenty years and still working. Chances of running in to that situation are not very high as the watch is automatic and my daughter is married.


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