Suddenly my wrist watch stopped working. It was as though my life had stopped. I was so dependent on seeing its reassuring dial as I made my way through the day. Now the seconds handle just did not seem to move – no matter how much I prodded those knobs that protruded over it.
The watch was a beauty. A solid brown Kenneth-Cole which watch repairers have seldom seen. It was a gift from Mario Lismar from Angola. Weaned completely on Portuguese, I used to teach Mario to speak English in Delhi. When he and his wife Alda were transferred, he gifted me this watch. No – it was not digital.
Now it was not working. Of course the TATA group had gifted me a Titan watch (in fact, several) for services rendered, but the gleaming gold/cold metal strap was not my cup of tea. I pined for the smart musk brown leather strap which adorned the Kenneth-Cole. Of course the strap itself was one of several which had to be replaced at intervals owing to constant use.
Earlier watches were priceless. Today you can wear one every week as per the fashion of the day. Watches can be had at discounts, but is one really necessary when there are wall clocks, clock towers and time settings on your mobile phone – not to mention the laptop on which I am typing this?
It must be something to do with the battery, I thought. An earlier watch repairer we used to go to, used to sit on a watch for several days until we finally retrieved it –at a price. He definitely had no sense of time! He also used to ask daft questions like, ‘Do you want me to put this cheap cell from China or the more expensive one?’ Having no clue what was what, we usually nodded vigorously leaving him to – of course – give us his most expensive cell. Surely that was small price to pay for keeping our status intact?!
Nowadays every time we pass by a toy shop Dwayne never fails to spy a watch and throw a tantrum so that we buy it for him. He has forgotten he already has 3 back home. Somehow it makes him feel grown up, but I still don’t understand why he has to sleep with it.
As we waited in the market space at an elderly watch-repairer’s Spartan cubicle, I felt the joy of waiting in peace. He carefully pried open the surface on the reverse, inserted a fresh cell (with no spiel), brushed the insides and handed it to me. The earlier strap had a deep gash in it, so I asked him to change that too. As he did so he gently advised me not to use the same hole every time. It was that simple.
I read somewhere that my earlier watch in my school days, an HMT, was heavy because the Indian middle class seemed reassured by its weight. I still have not figured that one out.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 31 May 2015. Pix courtesy thinkgeek(dot)com.