Yet another year has drawn to a close and a new one has begun. The Man from Madras Musings peers into the past and recalls at this moment several items closely traditionally associated with a new year calendar year and wonders as to where they have gone. Time has certainly moved on for these articles.
The first is the day calendar – the one where each day had a sheet and you ripped it off to reveal the next. MMM recalls that the last Viceroy of India had one such placed on the table to indicate a countdown to Independence for which he (the Viceroy and not MMM) took full credit (he, by which MMM means the Viceroy and not MMM, was noticeably silent on Partition and the horrors it generated). The world of cinema too made full use of such calendars and an abiding visual of the passing of time was a montage of several date sheets falling off. What has happened to such calendars? This species is not entirely dead though. What survives very well is the variety that has pictures of gods on a hard board with the daily calendar just below. In this the divinity remains a permanent fixture even as the calendar below wanes, becoming thinner as the year gets going. The two nails on which the date sheets are held together become longer and longer, finally remaining as two protruding talons, ready to tear into anyone clothes, or flesh. In many households, and indeed office, these calendars become permanent fixtures, long after the year is over, chiefly on account of the God emblazoned on them.
MMM is aware that glossy monthly calendars are still being brought out by some organisations but these too are on their way out. Many of these featured places of tourist interest, or divinities (always a safe bet in our country) or scenic spots from across the world and were much in demand. In a separate category but with high demand within that sector were the glossies brought out by liquor companies. All of these have seen diminished interest as there are better visuals, including those that were supplied by liquor companies, on the internet. So why settle for something static, which over the passage of year is likely to tear and what’s more, leave a permanent mark on the wall?
Leaving a mark on the wall reminds MMM of the calendar with two metal strips at both ends to make sure it did not bend with the passage of time. Remember that variety? If you don’t, just go back and take a look at a circular mark around any nail in old houses. Chances are that these were left behind by calendars long gone. As the year progressed, these calendars became thinner and thinner and so rotated freely around the nail from which they were hung, each time the wind blew or an electric fan was switched on. The circular mark was the net result.
In a similar category as calendars, and perhaps in even greater demand, were diaries. People made it a habit of calling and asking for them. And woe betide you if you said that you did not have any to give. For some reason, those in Government service and people in clerical jobs and lower grades asked for diaries in greater numbers. MMM wonders what they wrote in them. If all of them wrote on all the diaries they demanded and asked for, we would have many more accounts of life in old Madras than what we have. MMM suspects that these were essentially status symbols, shown around in the beginning of the year and then discarded.
Nowadays, when it comes to checking out dates or taking down notes, people use their cellphones. The walls are a lot cleaner, except of course where the old calendars with God pics still hang.