Story of Time Baba and Lime Thatha



Seekers of spirituality will do well to know that the path to self realization not only goes through the Buddhist monasteries and Zen gardens but also the clock of Time Baba. 

-Dalai Lama


All have time for what they do. None has time for what they want to do.
-Time Baba, Life Gaga





Time Baba, Life Gaga movement may be dead now. But back in seventies every desk had a Time Baba calender and every day a celebrity joined its fold. Now all that is left of the movement that spread like wild fire and died like May fly is a dilapidated temple in a remote village in Tamil Nadu. And in the temple, the idol of Time Baba stands alone but for... Lime thatha. Lime thatha sells lemon juice to odd tourists and tells tall tales to curious seekers.

"What would you do if you have two extra hours?" The interviewer asked.
Gopal hated trick questions. He hated it even more than the countries and capitals questions. He had heard people saying Time is money. But he belonged to the group that could do with two hours less and little more money than two hours more and lot less money.
'I will spend the time selling our shaving blades, Sir.' Gopal said finally.
The interviewer scratched his beard unimpressed. Walk the talk was clearly not high up on his list.
'What is your salary expectation?', The bearded guy asked.
'Ninety nine rupees and seventy five paise.' Gopal was afraid to quote high but wanted to include the bus charge and camphor for Ganesha every day.
'We will get back to you' The guy closed the interview politely.
Gopal knew that he had blown up the interview. The guy had not even made note of his salary expectation.   

"Profound question." A voice interrupted Gopal's thoughts. He looked up and saw a man in dirty saffron robes.
"Absurd answer." The man sat near him on the park bench.
Gopal looked around anxiously for help.
"What people do when they get two hours is very different from what they say they will do. Do you know that?" Swami asked.
Gopal nodded wearily. The only thing he knew was that the park was not a safe place for women and heterosexual men in evenings.
"Do you want to know what you should have said?" Swamiji asked.
"Does it matter now?" Gopal asked.
"Sure. You can tell that to the guy and get a job. I can,", Swami paused dramatically for a moment,"change time."
Gopal looked at Swami's face for the first time. It was calm, serene and radiant.
"What I should tell him? Tell me. Please." Gopal begged.
"Or will you rather want to know what you are meant to do if you get those extra two hours?" Swami asked.
"Rats! I don't like trick questions." Gopal said frustrated.
But the swami just smiled and said nothing.
"All right! I will tell you the truth. Nobody gets extra two hours. I would rather like to know what I should tell the interviewer and get the job." Gopal said.
Swami shook his head and smiled ruefully.

Gopal ran up the steps just as the bearded guy was coming out.
"Double edge shaving blades!" Gopal announced as he caught up with him.
"What?" The guy was puzzled. He was not used to panting strangers offering life changing advise.
"I will spend the extra hours devising double edge blades." Gopal said.
"Nobody cares about how many edges..." The man stopped abruptly as he was having an Eureka moment. "But we can sell at a higher price point because of two blades!"
The man was excited.He made an on the spot offer to Gopal. The swami was not there when Gopal went back to the park. But there was a photo of what looked like an idol on the bench. Gopal made a small enclosure near the bench with couple of bricks and kept the photo inside. There was something written below the photo which did not make much sense to Gopal. But he saw the word 'Time' repeated many times. So he wrote 'Time Baba' on one of the brick.

Gopal visited Time Baba temple before he went about selling the blades at the bus stand every day. On the odd days he did not, he felt listless, sold less and earned less commission. Slowly Time Baba became popular in the village. A steady stream of people started coming to the temple. But the fortune of Gopal's company went the other way. Severe competition and commoditization of shaving blades eroded the company's profits.
"Aren't we doing double edge shaving blade idea I gave?" Gopal asked the owner one day.
The guy looked at him for a long time and said,"I want to. I really do. But I don't have time. If I just had two hours extra.." 

So Gopal went about his job selling lesser and lesser and earning lesser and lesser. He became sadder by the day. But he never stopped going to Time Baba temple.
"It is here that I am happy." Gopal told himself as he cleaned the garbage left by the visitors near Time Baba temple.
"I want to spend more time with you. Clean temple,Do poojas. But.. But where do I have time? I have to sell blades." Gopal said looking at Time Baba.

"Wow! How profound." Gopal heard some one saying in a strange accent as he was cleaning. He cringed when he saw two fair men. He was used to North Indians abusing him when he tried selling blades to them. But these people were friendlier.
"Steve! Look at this. This is huge. I can feel it!" One of them said.
"I don't like the design." Steve said unimpressed."The slogan is too long. The logo is not culture neutral." "But we can change them!" One white man said.
"Hmm... I don't know. I want to go back to California." Steve said.
"But I want to do this." The white man said.
"It's your wish." Steve shrugged. "But what about this guy?" He pointed at Gopal.
"Do you want a temple to be built for Time Baba?" The white man asked Gopal. Gopal nodded enthusiastically.
"I will build one. But on one condition. You should not talk about Time Baba anymore." The white man said.

Within a week, a marble temple came up in the park. Within a month, Time Baba was covered in Newsweek and BBC. Within a year, Time Baba trust made million dollars by the sale of calenders. Everybody wanted to have one. Even Gopal bought one for himself - a month before his company closed and he lost his job.

"I don't believe you." I said as Lime thatha finished the story.
"Maybe, this original photo will convince you." He took out a faded photograph from his pocket. My jaw dropped as I saw the Hindu logo and the original slogan.
From Funny Side Of Life

"What happened to Gopal?" I asked.
I knew what had happened to the white man. Lord Hoso Kamaleesh had committed suicide due to depression and Time Baba, Life Gaga movement disappeared into oblivion just as swiftly as it had risen.
"He cleans the temple, sells lemon juice and tells tales." Lime thatha said.
"But... but you seem so happy! You could have been..."I was awestruck by the old man who radiated happiness.
"Surprising isn't it! Maybe it is because," Lime thatha said in a mysterious tone, "This is what I was meant to do!"
"I still can't believe it. I mean... you could have founded Gillette!" I said overawed.

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