Today is Ugadi, the dawn of the new year for people in the South Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
While eating a pinch of bevu-bella (neem and jaggery) is a symbolic way of kicking off the new year, to signify that bitterness and sweetness should be accepted with equanimity, an equally important tradition on Ugadi day is the reading of the Panchang, the Hindu almanac (in picture,above).
Step forward, Chitra Subramaniam.
As India’s best-known investigative journalist, Chitra Subramaniam (in picture, left) was the one-woman army behind the unravelling of the Bofors scandal for both The Indian Express and The Hindu.
As Chitra Subramaniam-Duella, she has morphed into a horologist who makes watches in the land of watches, Switzerland, in the cradle of watches, Neuchâtel.
With her partner Marc Aeschbacher, a former investment banker, Chitra has bought over a 170-year-old defunct Swiss watch brand and set up BorgeauD SA. Their signature product is the Panchang line, bringing “the best of Swiss watch-making to the service of one of the world’s oldest calendars”.
Id est, the panchang watches marry the modern western concept of time with its traditional eastern calculations based on the sun, moon and the various planets, thus giving time a new dimension. So, apart from telling the normal time, the Panchang watches also display the rahu kala, the 90-minute sequence which occurs at different times on different days of the week, and during which nothing happens except “reflection”.
Developed in consultation with S. Ramadorai, the chief of India’s largest software company, Tata Consultancy Services, Chitra is quoted as saying that she sees a market in Europe for the Panchang line:
“I think people like it because this is a completely new idea and we tell people that they can have an appointment with themselves every day for 90 minutes. They love that. This is the only watch that tells you ‘just wait’.”