“I want to buy a clock,” the husband announced one day at breakfast. “A clock with a large face, and perhaps one that chimes the hour.” I looked at him incredulously, and shuddered at the image his words conjured up, of a hideous plastic clock whirring loudly and harshly every sixty minutes, as it chimed the hour.
“We have a clock in every room of our house,”I said in outrage. I’ve chosen them all myself. So why do we need one more?”
“To know the time,” came the prompt reply.“We can’t look at a single one of your clocks and know what the time is.”
I was speechless when I heard this. “What do you mean?” I asked crossly. All our clocks are working perfectly.”
“They may be, but you can’t tell the correct time by looking at a single one. Take that one for example,” the husband said testily, pointing to the round, British winding clock encased in an oak wood frame that hangs above our bedroom door. “I fail to understand why it’s kept there. It never keeps the correct time.”
“It’s more than a hundred years old,” I snapped. “It’s a valuable antique. So what if it loses a few minutes every week? I know its cycle well, and have got used to adding a few minutes when I look at it, to roughly calculate the time. I think we must give it a little leeway for being over a hundred years old. Do you think we’d be as efficient if we live to be a hundred? I saw a similar clock in the movie ‘Titanic’, and the Titanic sank in 1912. Sometimes I try to imagine all the adventures the clock must have had before it came to us, all the way from London…”
“I don’t want to imagine the clock’s adventures! I just want the correct time! If it’s such a valuable antique, why don’t you just sell it? Then we can put a good, new clock in its place.”
“No,” I said firmly. “I’m not selling my century old Smiths Enfield clock. If you don’t like it, you can look at the time in one of our other clocks.”
“Show me one in which I can see the time clearly.”
I quickly looked around. Our dining room is adorned with a pink glass clock, digitally printed with a traditional kalamkari design of peacocks and flowering trees. I had spotted it on a website, and had been so captivated by it, that I had bought it immediately. When the clock arrived, I was delighted. I felt that its beautiful and delicate finish added much to the ambience of our dining room. But I had to admit that the clock’s gold hands merged so seamlessly into the pink forest on its face, that it was rather difficult to read the time.
Next, my eye fell on an exquisite blue ceramic clock from Turkey that I’ve placed in a corner of our living room. Though the clock is small, it is hand painted in the shining jewel colours prized by the erstwhile Ottoman sultans. The Turkish clock’s radiant colours never fail to please me, and I smiled as I remarked, “that clock is part of a 700 year old tradition of Iznik ceramics.”
“But no one can read the time on it! It’s just another of your useless clocks. Show me one on which I can see the time at one glance.”
In my mind, I quickly thought of the other clocks that I had carefully selected for my home. My kitchen boasts of a wine bottle clock, made from a champagne coloured wine bottle, melted flat in a kiln. I liked the idea that a bottle that once held the finest Chardonnay wine had got a new lease of life as a clock. I consider my kitchen clock a unique work of art, and believe that it makes a fabulous statement on the wall. But it doesn’t have any numbers on it, and I’ve noticed that my cook, and my maids never even glance at it – they look at the time on their cell phones.
The clock in my study is one that I found in a supermarket in the US. A charming bird clock, it presents a different bird’s song to announce the arrival of each hour. The various bird songs include songs from cardinals, jays, mockingbirds, and chickadees. After I had installed this unusual clock, our cat Indy went crazy, running from room to room, hunting for the birds that he could hear. He soon figured out however, that the sound was not coming from live birds, and went back to his favourite daytime pastime of snoozing. But the maid who dusts our house was not so bright. She came to me worriedly several days later, and told me that she thought that there was a rat hiding in the bookshelf. She could hear it make funny sounds and squeaks occasionally.
Another of my clocks that I especially like is a wooden clock decorated with hand painted tribal art. I bought it directly from the artist who created it, at an art mela. It’s eye-catching, but I have to admit that it’s not a clock that shows you the time at one glance. Neither is my small porcelain mantle clock, festooned with plump cherubs.
I sighed. “Maybe you’re right,” I conceded grudgingly to the husband. “Perhaps none of my clocks are that practical. So we’ll buy another one. I think I know just the one that we need. I’ve had my eye on it for a while. It’s a beautiful antique railway station clock, but you’ll like it because it has a large, easy to read face….