Of Calendars and Clocks

There’s something about beginning a new year. Besides the usual greetings and celebrations, there’s also a more mundane aspect to it. Many folks like to make a new year resolution, for example. And it usually has to do with giving up some of your favourite – and not-good-for-you – habits like smoking, late nights, or eating meat or fatty foods, desserts and chocolate, or getting on to an exercise regimen.

I wonder why it is that most new year resolutions are about giving up or cutting back on something or the other. Perhaps that’s why they never last beyond the first couple of months, and why I have never made new year resolutions. Perhaps it is precisely because my decision to quit smoking a decade ago wasn’t a New Year resolution that I have managed to stay away from cigarettes all these years!

There’s one ritual, though, that marks the beginning of a new year for me and although we don’t usually give it much thought, for many of us acquiring a new calendar, or planner and for some, even diaries, is the time when we make a mental mark of the next 365 days in our lives. I have never been much of a planner or diary person, but a calendar is something I look forward to, and find useful in my day to day work and life.

Last year, I bought two small desk calendars – one for my parents and the other for myself – from Amazon. This year, when I browsed Amazon, I couldn’t find a single calendar to my liking, so I set about making some for our home. I wanted a floral print design to start with, since I find the theme goes beautifully with the idyllic setting in Goa. Since I am not a designer, I first browsed the internet to see if any calendar design templates were available online. I was surprised at the array of choices even within the floral theme; a particular design caught my fancy and it must be my good luck that it was even available free! Would you believe that?

Many thanks to Paper Trail Designs who have beautiful water colour flowers in their monthly calendar designs, available on their website. I downloaded them and decided to ask a local printing shop nearby to have them make calendars for our home. Unfortunately, desk calendars weren’t possible, but they were able to print the monthly pages and then spiral-bind them for me. Voila! 2020 calendars done!

Wall calendar featuring designs by Paper Trail Designs and desktop background calendar featuring mine

Ah, but you see, ours is a home, where every room has a calendar (sometimes more than one!) as well as a clock. If you didn’t know that we are three old people living here – two aged retired folk and yours truly who feels as if she has retired – you’d think we were a bunch of busybodies leading a hectic work and social life. Yes, we keep very busy, but more about that later.

So, there I found myself at my computer once again, this time designing more calendars! Thanks to WordPress, I discovered Canva a year ago, a designing website precisely for non-designers like me and that’s where I do most of my designing for my blog, The Whistle newsletter and other email updates, etc. With the help of floral images from Pixabay (another website I use a lot, since they have stock images and videos for free!) I designed a couple of wall calendars for my parents’ room and mine. These are single page, year-at-a-glance kind of calendars. Got them printed at the same neighbourhood print shop.

By now, you can say I was feeling most inspired. I discovered that Canva also have calendar templates (unfortunately, only in landscape format) for 2020, so I thought why not a monthly calendar for my computer, as a desktop background! Well, these monthly floral calendars I finally designed for my computer, are around the idea of seasons and the colours and moods they evoke in us.

Year-at-a-glance calendars designed by yours truly on Canva, with images from Pixabay and date pad from calendarlabs.com

For someone who has spent the last 12 to 15 years looking for freelance writing assignments, both in Delhi and in Goa (and found only a handful of projects) and who also feels a long and good career in advertising and brand communications has been laid to waste (thanks to a few bad career moves on my part and unprofessional company bosses), you’d wonder what significance time could possibly have for me. I think about that a lot, and naturally I am awfully concerned about my aged parents towards whom I still have responsibilities. What must be going through their minds, on the subject of time? Old folk, who are nearing the end of their lives?

Having lived away from my parents for most of my working life in Delhi and now living with them in their old age for the past decade in Goa, I have had a chance to observe their concept of time from up close. All my life, I have known my parents to be early risers (as all good south Indians tend to be) and the day begins early. Now, in their old age, I find that their idea of time revolves around hours and minutes, not months, weeks or even days. They are particular about their meals, their reading and TV viewing, their afternoon nap, shopping, etc at specific times of the day. The rest of the day revolves around these. We always discuss the news of the day at the dinner table, and increasingly, I find the conversations go back to some incident or news from the distant past.

My mother, in particular, takes a trip down memory lane and revisits the nostalgic past almost every day, in some context or the other. My father, had his teaching at the Goa University and Goa Institute of Management to keep him busy earlier. Now that he has given up teaching, he spends his time reading and watching TV news. And, of course, we all keep busy with household chores; I have tried telling them to leave the daily cooking and washing to me and to relax and take it easy, but in vain.

Speaking of time, I remember a few years in Ogilvy Delhi when we received desk clocks as gifts for, I think, three consecutive years. Brightly coloured in Ogilvy red, with the white ampersand, they occupied space in several rooms in my home, even then. I used to wonder if the company was trying to send us some kind of message, about how we used our time! I have to say they were infinitely better, though, than the oversized Ogilvy T-shirt we received one year, which I gave my younger sister to wear. And, of course, I still have the Ogilvy branded Titan Classique watch that each of us in Ogilvy received, on the occasion of the company completing 60 years in India. Sadly, mine doesn’t work anymore and I wonder if it can be repaired at all.  

60 years’ commemorative watch from Ogilvy, made by Titan, an Ogilvy client

Fortunately, I now have my blog to keep me busy and intellectually engaged (which is so critical for someone who has had to forcibly give up a career). I also read a lot (like my parents, particularly my father) and that keeps me engaged and in touch with what is going on in the rest of the world. I have also had plenty of time in the intervening years, to think about brands and of a new way of approaching them, and also of brand strategies and ideas for many. I hope to be able to put some of these thoughts and ideas into practice someday, and look forward to a time when there can be a serious and engaging discussion on this with like-minded people at the right organization. Sadly, I haven’t seen any signs of a chance to do so all these years, and so I begin 2020 with the hope that maybe, just maybe, this year could be the start of a new chapter in my career after a long hiatus. I don’t know yet, if it will be with an advertising and brand communications agency, or with a marketing organization, and am keeping my mind open to both.

I can’t help but feel terrible about the wasted years, years that ought to have been the prime of my career, but here I am, still having to look forward and think ahead. Still surrounded by calendars and clocks. Especially for my parents’ sakes who, as the days go by, have only the glow of their past to bask in. I hope and wish I can be back at work soon, before the light fades in their eyes. Here’s hoping 2020 will be that 20×20 year.

PS: If all those calendars weren’t enough, I also put together a Bird’s Eye View 2020 calendar of important business and political events as well as anticipated book releases, which you will find on all post pages on my blog site. Please feel free to add it to your own Google calendar! Happy 2020!

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