Memory Trigger 12. The Weighing Machine.

There was an all too brief period of great romance in my life in the early sixties of the last century, when I was in Madras and my great passion was in Hyderabad. She used to transit through Madras to her home by train and her great pastime on the platforms was to get a few of predictions from these weighing scales located on both railway station platforms just to amuse people like her. Alas for this Orpheus, Eurydice decided to go her way and left me to go my way for reasons that will be written about when another appropriate trigger comes along.

I don’t think that they are around anymore in railway stations. When I was a travelling salesman, just about all major railway stations had them and while one was not fastidious about one’s weight those days, one was most interested in the fortune that the print-out with the weight carried. Some really creative fortunes used to be on those cards and whenever one could afford to take a few repeats one did for the fun of it. You would get messages like these: “You will be happy and peaceful,” “You will meet a handsome stranger,” “Eat well and thrive” etc.

I was reminded of these machines, my old passion and my own travelling salesman days, when I read this fascinating story in the Indian Quarterly Magazine.

Do spend some time reading this remarkable story for the coincidences that the writer encountered and the history that unfolded.

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15 Responses to Memory Trigger 12. The Weighing Machine.

  1. Suresh Mahajan says:

    Don’t forget the whirling discs and flashing lights.

  2. I vaguely remember them. I also loved fortune cookies. 🙂
    Cheerful Monk recently posted..Giving Up Hope and Going With the Flow

  3. nick says:

    I haven’t seen a weighing machine for a very long time. I guess most people (like us) have weighing machines/scales in their homes now. Also, nowadays many people would probably be too embarrassed to use public ones in case they registered some horrendous weight! I don’t remember the fortunes at all.

  4. I enjoyed the article, with its beautiful, if somewhat antiquated prose (antiquated to readers of the Western ilk, who are so wrongfully accustomed to more casual writing!)
    The last line was a case in point: “YOU have a great reverence for the past but an exaggerated idea of its virtues.” I love that sentence!

    • As I come from the same linguistic background, I did not find it unusual but now that you point out, perhaps it is unusual in this Americanised environment. Perhaps even my language is so!

    • I received this message from a friend who is a Canadian citizen of Indian origin.

      “Being a Canadian is confusing because you sound like an American, write like a Brit and throw in just enough French words to freak every one out”

  5. Aaahhh !!! Those lovely machines I remember from King’s Circle station in Bombay! But in my time I thought it was only ten paise !!!
    Raj Krishnaswamy recently posted..Narayana Sahasranamam LNS Audio

  6. tammy j says:

    we had those weight and fortune machines when i was quite small.
    but there were no flashing lights and whirling discs!
    they were quite staid. and dull. and only cost 1 penny.
    the fun part for me was getting to put my own penny into the slot!
    the fortune showed up on the machine. no paper. just a little window.
    it floated inside that window i recall. i had to be lifted up to read it.
    good memories! now i’m off to read the story in your link. 😀
    tammy j recently posted..moving on old bean

  7. I believe there are still of the machines (silent) that tammy speaks of but they aren’t usually in public places more like the entrance to the ladies loo (probably some in the mens) but there also other dispensers…

    what a lovely machine it sounds like though…bring back that life; bring back joy/happiness…

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