March 10, 2021 | 5:48 am IST

Clocking time in previous years

NJ Ravi Chander

Lengthy earlier than our lives had been dominated by the clocks; there have been alternative ways of measuring the time of day. These included the clock towers, the college bell, monitoring the motion of the solar, the muezzin calling the trustworthy to prayer, temple songs, rooster crows, the church bell. and the manufacturing unit siren. I bear in mind waking as much as the blaring sirens of the close by Imperial Tobacco Firm (ITC) manufacturing unit and 515 Military Base workshop throughout my early days. As well as, signaling the beginning of labor, shift change, work breaks and the tip of the work day, manufacturing unit authorities additionally used sirens throughout occasions of hazard to alert residents of fires. , pure disasters and air raids.

One technique we adopted to give attention to the hour was to hearken to the trains passing in entrance of the station close to our house. There was additionally a degree crossing a couple of meters from the station operated by a gateman who warned passers-by of the arrival of the practice by sounding an electromechanical bell which was audible in all instructions. Trains got here and went all day and night time, however locals residing close to the tracks acquired used to them. Quickly we turned acquainted with the names of many trains passing by the station, along with having the practice schedule helpful.

As I walked to elementary faculty within the sixties, I ventured to beg for the second from a herd of sneering faculty women who sported HMT watches on my wrist. The enduring watch firm launched the advert “The Nation’s Timekeepers”. After divulging the time, the gorgeous women, towering over us little ones, laughed and replied, “Is that cute?”

The varsity guard introduced the beginning of classes by hanging a gong in his possession, an infinite variety of occasions. Colleges in our neighborhood began at completely different occasions within the morning, and recess, lunch break, and the tip of the college day weren’t in sync with one another. Consequently, we acquired used to listening to a number of chimes that adopted each other and produced various strike notes.

Historic timing gadgets included the candle clock, utilized in China, Japan, England and Mesopotamia, the time stick utilized in India and Tibet, the hourglass, and the sundial. The latter relied on shadows to estimate the time on a sunny day whereas the hourglass, the very image of the notion of time, had sand flowing by means of its glass bulbs. Hourglasses have served as a stark reminder of the fleetingness of existence and are objects of fascination. The tall clock towers that dotted the town turned landmarks and stood like sentries. Regardless of the relentless march of time, a few of these ‘nice outdated beauties’ are nonetheless ‘alive and shifting’!

Lastly, the rampant use of roosters within the pre-dawn interval to calculate time can be ethnographically documented. There was an abundance of home fowl again then, and their ubiquitous sound was a sign to stand up and shine. Saramaka, a maroon group from Suriname, thought of rooster crowing within the hours earlier than daybreak as a superb time to share secrets and techniques. Roosters additionally alerted these residing outdoors the speedy attain of spiritual orders to arrange for morning devotions with their loud statements.

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