Just a minute…

Well, taking a break from my PS ramblings, I want to write about something different. Being denied internet access throughout the week (Im too lazy to walk 7 floors down and then to the internet cafe :P), I was thinking all week long about this blog Im writing. During the week, I had to visit the ATM to draw cash. Its about my experience there.
Well, ATMs or Automated Teller Machines (yes, thats the full form, not the All Time Money!), are synonymous with 24 hour functionality. Well, my recent experiences in the campus did contradict their 24 hour availability, but still I was hopeful. I walked into the Annanagar Branch of the SBI, on a hot afternoon only to dismally discover a long line ahead and the shutters drawn. “Arey!” I exclaimed before I could stop myself and drew long stares from the perspiring crowd in front.

My enquiring looks generated an automatic response from a guy squatting on the ground(who I later discovered was the watchman or guard). “Vanthenday Irrukan Madam”, he said with a pan soiled grin. I looked at my watch and decided to wait.

Vanthenday Irrukan , essentially in Tamil means “he is coming” or “is on his way”. Well, thats just the literary meaning. Over my years spent there and various harrowing experiences earlier in Chennai had told me otherwise. Endless phonecalls to our drivers when one wanted to rush to the airport or railway station generated this very response. I used to believe their excuse till I discovered that “Vanthenday Irrukan” did not really mean that. It often was told when the driver hasnt even started or is fast asleep and has just realized he is on duty. This resulted in huge delays and the endless “Vanthenday Irrukan” remained a mystery. In the end, I concluded, it meant nothing. It just means you have to wait. The guy is due and dont know when he would turn up.
I smiled knowingly at the watchman. I know he wont come. I asked ” Will it take more than half an hour? “. ” No! no! madam, just a minute more”.

Again, I thought, Systems Internationale in France had decided to follow the hexagesimal system for time. It meant 60 seconds per minute. 60 minutes per hour and so on. The second is techincally ( courtesy Wikipedia) “duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom.” Okay, one neednt know that much in detail. But atleast the tick of the second hand of one’s watch should mean something to you. Well, as many of you must have experienced, it no longer is. We have redefined time. It continues to be 60 seconds but thats only in contests or competitions where a stop watch is montoring the happenings. A minute when you are sitting in queues to meet someone, (the RTO is the worst among the govt orgs.)or waiting like this endlessly, is like an hour. Its not just the perception, it really is.

My thoughts kept me busy and I did not realize that around 30 mintues had passed. I wiped the sweat off my brow and turned to see that the line had grown longer. More queries and more of the same answers. By now the watchman had also disappeared.

We grew hopeful as we saw him in the distance but were disappointed as he came back and took his position on the ground. I looked at him questioningly.

“One minute madam, vanthenday irrukan “. He smiled.


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