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Hours & Minutes

Luminox Advt.
Our Vision - December 2017

Stories of Time



According to you what is the role of public clocks in the modern urban landscape?

We must force ourselves to agree, perhaps, that as a technology it is past its use by date. I say this, not fully convinced, but because you see even wristwatches seem to be used more as a style accessory. Today, if you want to check the time, you pull out your mobile. How many look up at these buildings? Having said that, I remember, being on an assignment in Switzerland for the National Geographic Traveller magazine, spotting many such clocks on buildings around Zurich, Lucerne and in other cities. I would often be looking up at them and it made me reconsider whether public clocks have at all lost their utility. My assumption is that in Mumbai, since most of the clocks have been dead for long periods, they have fallen off the mind maps of citizens. We have been doing a series of interviews in the last 2 years and speaking to random people on the streets to understand their relationship with these buildings and, more so, the clocks. It seems that people are aware of their existence and have told us of instances when they used to refer to these time pieces. So, they definitely were utilitarian. It was my hypothesis at the start of the project that the reason for the existence of public clocks was that architecture served an additional purpose at a time when personal timepieces were rare. If it was purely for reasons of aesthetics, then it could have been anything…why a clock? Installing a clock simply makes the building a more expensive proposition, right?

Which is your favourite image of all these and why?

That is almost impossible for me to answer. If I didn’t like an image I would go and reshoot and better it. But if you put a gun to my head, it will perhaps be the Indian Sailors’ Home at Masjid which I photographed around 1997. The clock, though, has now disappeared.

The complete story is in Hours & Minutes on pg no. 12 in the December 2017 edition.