I believe the best way to explore Bangalore is to take a ride on an early morning or late evening BMTC bus. I often do this on amorning. I travel across the city in almost empty buses enjoying the cool breeze and old Hindi film songs played on the radio. A few weeks back I was enjoying my routine bus journey. While my headphones were crooning “main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya” a Mohd. Rafi classic, I received a gentle tap om my shoulder. An elderly gentleman was standing next to my seat I shifted closer to the window to give him enough seat space. He tapped my shoulder again. I removed my headphones unwillingly darting a questioning glance in his direction. “May I ask you a question ?” –Said the man. “Please tell me” was my response. “Can you show me your watch” He enquired. I projected my left wrist towards him in answer. “That’s a nice watch you have their young man”. A conversation began immediately and after a few minutes the gentleman said – “I have HMTs too and have fond memories attached to them. Those were the glorious days, when HMT was the watch of Indians. Would you like to see my watches ?”. “Yes, of course” was my answer. After a couple of bus-stops passed we got down from the bus and headed towards his home. It was a simple and elegantly decorated drawing room of a upper middle class house. Mr. Kumar (name changed on request) introduced me to Mrs. Kumar who bought us our coffees. Mr. Kumar is a retired HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) employee . Over a hot cup of coffee our conversation continued. Presently, Mr. Kumar went inside and bought out his HMT watches. He had a couple of Black Jawahars, a commemorative Kohinoor watch, A Janata and a very special pilot watch. I was mesmerized by the beauty of these watches, the rare pilot with broad indices in particular. He showed me his watches with a lot of pride – “I got it on my service anniversary” he said looking at the Pilot watch. I have worn these watches very rarely and kept them inside my safe box. As we talked more, he learnt more about my HMT watch madness and heard my stories with interest. He shared quite a few instances and stories that he had heard and his experiences related to HMT watches.
After enjoying his company and his HMT watches for sometime, I decided to take his leave. “Prashant, we are leaving for the US of A in the next few weeks to live with our son and family. We stay alone here and he is always concerned about our well being .We have stayed all our life in Bangalore but since my son is adamant and what he says makes practical sense…we are relocating.” I went silent for a minute and then said “ I have made a lot of friends, thanks to HMT watches. Today is probably the first time I have made and lost a friend in a day”. “No..No we are still here for a few weeks..you must meet us before we leave Bangalore”. I promised to do so.
I received a call from Mr. Kumar after a couple of weeks. “Prashant, we are leaving for the US this weekend. Let’s catch up over a cup of coffee”. I met Mr. and Mrs. Kumar at their house. I updated him on the watches I had added to my collection in the last two weeks and promised to meet him upon his return. Since their flight was early next morning I decided it was time for me to conclude my visit. As I got up to take a leave he said – “Here this is for you” and handed over a packet to me. “This is a small gift for you. Open it once you reach home”. I had to visit a few more places and reached home a little late at night. After having my dinner I opened the packet. I was dumbfounded – for the packet contained Mr. Kumar’s HMT watches and small note that said “please accept them as a gift from me…..let the made in India stay in India J”.
It was too late to disturb them in the night and I have not been able to reach Mr. Kumar since that day. Friends, It’s just amazing how a wrist watch can turn two perfect strangers into friends. I take this opportunity to thank Mr. Kumar through this blog…Thank you Kumar Sir..thanks a lot”
|Mr. Kumar's Broad Indices pilot watch which he received on his 15th service anniversary|
|Case back of his Pilot watch with the etching celebrating his 15 years of association with HAL|
|The beautiful Jawahar watches|
|His Kohinoor watch which he received from his organization HAL during his service|