A Brief Portrait Of The Ghadiwala

Shot, Directed and Edited by Varsha Panikar and Asawari Jagushte Graded by Saad Nawab I met a man once who spoke to me of time. Said, “Time is a ticking clock. You get in and you get out.” And Time…

A Brief Portrait Of The Ghadiwala

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Shot, Directed and Edited by Varsha Panikar and Asawari Jagushte
Graded by Saad Nawab

I met a man once who spoke to me of time.
Said, “Time is a ticking clock. You get in and you get out.”
And Time merely looked at us and whispered, “Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock.”

About 2 years ago, Asawari and I spent 15 days in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh doing research for a documentary. One fine day, on our way back from Old Shimla, we came across a tiny shop of vintage timepieces, hiding away among the large assembly of stores on the famous Mall Road of Shimla, and that is where we met Gurucharan Singh. Asawari and I have always loved vintage watches, which Guruchanji was quick to notice, and before we knew it, we were discussing everything from analogue to digital to politics to the state of Shimla; and soon Gurucharanji started telling us about how he fell in love with the clock and decided to become a Ghadiwala.

A pleasant and friendly old man who does what he does because he loves what he does.
Having come from a very humble background, Gurucharanji started working at a very young age. He worked as an apprentice to one of his friend’s father and soon fell in love with analogue clocks. Eventually, he was able to save up a little money and start his own shop, the very same shop where we stood, talking to him. It felt like we had time-travelled with him. It was as if we travelled back in time with him. He reminded me of the timekeeper, so I started talking to him about time. That is the first time, I realised that it saddened him somehow, the thought of abandonment of these old timepieces, the thought of time lost, the thought of the time to come, which was uncertain. It perhaps reminded him of something he had lost. Perhaps, the loss of youth, or maybe the loss of time itself. We will never know, and we couldn’t get ourselves to ask him but the prose we used for this was hence, the obvious choice.

Through the course of our discussion, Asawari requested if she could take some videos and pictures of his and surprisingly, he agreed. I must admit, quite excitedly. We noticed the sun was quickly going down, as did Gurucharanji. He told us that it was time for him to close his shop so I quickly paid for the watch which I had selected. It was an analogue watch by Timestar – an indo-french company pre-independencee. We made plans to meet the next day to shoot with him properly and left. After our days work the next day, I and Asawari headed to Gurucharan’s shop. We were glad that we were going to reach early but found it shut upon arriving. Disheartened, both of us walked back to our hotel room and decided we were going to try again tomorrow. Unfortunately, he didn’t return the next day or the next. Can’t say we weren’t a bit worried for him.

A day before we were supposed to leave Shimla, we walked past that same road and found the shop open. Gurucharanji was sitting there, as usual, listening to his gramophone and reading the papers. He saw us and immediately started apologising. The thing is we never exchanged numbers. Having spent an adequate amount of time there, I had come to realise that most people in Shimla don’t think to exchange numbers. They give you a time and a place, and they meet you there. No one calls in advance to cancel or postpone. You get there on time and if the person hasn’t reached, you wait, coz’ you know that they will eventually, arrive. Now, that’s a good life! Upon enquiring, Gurucharanji told us that he had to leave town urgently with his daughter because she had to take some exams in another state. We were obviously just happy to see him again

Unfortunately, we weren’t equipped to shoot with him, so we just had yet another lovely chat with him and promised we would come to meet him if we were ever in Shimla again. Two years later, while going through an old hard drive we came across this old footage and decided to put it together. This is the footage we shot the first time we met him. Even though it doesn’t do justice to the conversations we had, we felt we had to put together.

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