When Ghughu monitored Clocks, Watches and life in Simla of the Sixties

When Ghughu monitored Clocks, Watches and life in Simla of the Sixties

How simple life was in Simla of the Sixties when everyone enjoyed a laid back attitude…
There was nothing to rush about except to the office and the school, opening of shops…..and a light conversation that marked the start of the day. And above all it was the sound of Ghughu that would monitor the so called morning rush which by today’s comparison was a laid back affair.

Wrist watches, these days, are conspicuous by their absence as the life of generation X is run by smart gadgets….every gadget…be it the mobile in our hands, the laptop on our desks, the TV on our walls, notifying time! The irony is no one seems to have any time for the simple laid back life though every gadget has a clock displaying moments slipping by from our life!

But during our childhood days in early sixties….we were in love with and in awe of the gadget that notified time. The “badi sui” and the “chhoti sui” were so important for us. And so was the pendulam that would be constantly in motion, tirelessly, to move those two needles! How magical it was for us. The Sood family next door had a beautiful wall clock with brass pendulam and the digits. It would announce time by producing sound every hour….we would wait for the chimes of the musical sound it would produce and to count it to know ” Kitne baje hain!”

Today’s generation would find it hard to believe that many a times we would run to a neighbour’s house just to inquire, ” Time kya hua hai?” And would run back if we had to set time in our clock that might have stopped Tik-tokking! And the Massis would never mind it…..they would very magnanimously tell us the time looking at the clock on the shelf.
Running to a neighbourhood house to know about “Kya baja hai” was as common as running to have a katori of sugar if the sugar can was empty and you were about to prepare tea….no one was embarrassed of it!

We had a simple mechanical clock at home which had to be winded every single evening so that it might run without a break for the next 24 hours. The clock enjoyed a much respectable place on the mantle covered with white casement cover. Not to forget the flowers embroidered on the cover. Every evening, before finally calling it a day, Bauji would wind it, without fail. It would go on non stop Tick-Tock-Tick-Tock for the entire 24 hours…. Sometimes we would be allowed to wind the clock….ah…what a feat it would be. You had to know exactly when to stop winding it. There was another winding key…which was for setting alarms. We would have so much fun winding the alarm key and setting the alarm time and to listen to the shrill sound which seemed musical to us. It sounded shrill only when Amma would set the alarm for early mornings for us to get up and prepare for school examination.

The radium dial would glow in the night…the glow seemed like sparkle of diamonds to my little mind. It was such an enigma for my little mind that digits could shine so brightly in the darkness. How I wanted to rip open the clock and see for myself the enigma hidden behind the clock. Sometimes we would take this clock under the quilt and to look at the glowing digits. And we woupld open sometimes the back steel cover by disentangling the two winding keys…one for alarm, another for winding it for running smoothly and two others for setting the time and the alarm. No big deal….these simple keys ran our life.

Only Bauji had a wrist watch in the house….which would be ceremoniously put, every evening, alongwith the clock on the mantle. My sister got her first watch when she was married off….but I was lucky to have my first wrist watch when I was still in college. Those days confiscated watches were sold at the Naya Bazaar…. How excited I was when I went up three or four wooden stairs leading to Naya Bazaar where wrist watches minus the strap were sold. Mine cost only Rs. 70/ and how happy I was to have it. A strap befitting the Phoren made watch made me to have it on my slender wrists.ot is another matter that the goal was big enough to cover my thin wrist but finally I carried a gadget on my person that would help me run my life!
But nothing could take the pride of place for the simple Ghughu that we waited for every single morning. Since we lived in the Galli No. 2, quite near to the Telegraph office, the sound of Ghughu would be at its mightiest self for our ears. Everyone in the mohalla would be in a hurry waiting for the Ghughu to announce 10 O’ clock in the morning. Bauji would rush to his office before the heralding of Ghughu sound….we would be off to school…. Everyone would be speaking the same sentence, “Ghughu bajne wala hai!” The anticipation of “Ghughu bajne wala hai” would hurry up every activity in and around our mohalla. The Clocks and the watches would be set to the minute by the sound of Ghughu. This was the morning Ghughu that heralded the start of a workday in the life of everyone but come evening and the same Ghughu would connote the end of all office work for office goers, play time for us, the kids, and starting of evening meals preparation for Amma and other women of the mohalla. ” Paanch baj gaye” would mean so much, in a different manner, for everyone. The evening time for a vast majority of office goerrs would be a time to have a round or two on the Mall before going home with a jhola full of vegetables fetched from the Sabzi Mandi. But there were others, the fashionable, the elites, the whoswhoes of Simla who would wait for the religiously followed evening walk to the Mall. They went there to see and be seen. It was almost a fashion parade for them to display their clothes, hairstyle or anything which they wanted to make others envious of….of course people of their own type!!

During and after the Pakistan war in 1965….Ghughu developed a new connotation for all of us who tried to find a meaning in the variation of sound that it produced. It had lost its routine and would blare at odd hours in a dreadful manner putting all life to a halt. With abated breaths and praying hearts we would pray for another sound of Ghughu heralding the out-of-danger signal. The kids born just before the war were so afraid of the sound of Ghughu that many a mothers would scare them off by saying, “Ghughu aa jayega” and the poor kid would hide and be manipulated to behave properly.
Since we were the kids burn in the Fifties and were young enough to understand the Ghughu sound of the war time….our live for the Ghughu sound was not faltered in any way and today the mere look at the big click at the Taarghar
and the sound of Ghughu or the mere memory of its sound fills my mind with a laid back life that we enjoyed while being raised in Simla of the Sixties!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s