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Time out

If you happen to pass by the houses in Denchukha gewog in Dorokha, admiring the serene paddy fields across the valley, there is no reason for you to worry about time, literally.

Almost every house has a clock strung on the outside, a practice that prevailed for decades.

The trend, 80-year-old Nandalal said, dates back more than 50 years when the community first learnt about the device.

“Otherwise, we depended on the sunrise and sunset,” he said. “But this didn’t help us, especially when we had to go to other’s house to work.”

Nandalal remembers how villagers used to argue among themselves when one contributed labour for an extra hour for one household but in return, the other worked for lesser duration if the weather was cloudy.

“But we didn’t have anything to show to determine who worked for how long,” he said. “It was more difficult during winter with less sunshine.”

But one day, Nandalal said, as a saviour, an official from Thimphu came to their village for land survey.

“When we met him, we noticed he threw constant glance at his wrist,” he said. “He said it was a watch.”

That was when they were also told about the wall clock to help them keep time. There were villagers who could afford a clock and started getting one.

To ensure those in the field saw the time and adhered to it, the clocks found their place outside the house. Today, except for a few houses, the time on the clocks read the same across the village.

Being a scattered settlement, the passersby also had access to time and calculated their journey accordingly.

“We don’t even have to enter the house or ask house owners to know the time,” 50-year-old Shibalal Dungyal said.

Another villager said they preferred wall clock since wearing a wrist-watch was a burden for them while doing farm works.

But the wall clocks are always accompanied by portraits of gods and goddesses.

“When someone takes a blessing from a picture on our house, the house, we believe, automatically earns merit,” Nandalal said. “This is why we live happy.”

Yangchen C Rinzin, Dorokha

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