Published in the Times of India on the 27th of June

Some people can just never wake up early. They munch their breakfast on the way to work. They have excuses at the ready when they reach office late. They miss trains on a regular basis. They have never seen a sunrise and they have never met the milkman.

Until a loved one turned over a new leaf recently, she was one such late riser. Try as she might, she couldn’t help pressing the snooze button a hundred times before she finally got up. She felt terrible about this tendency of hers but there was nothing she could do about it. Come morning, each day, she would just not be able to shrug off the desire to sleep a while more. Only when divine intervention answered her prayers recently was she able to join the early birds club.

Another relative of mine has no plans of joining this league though. She is rather unabashed about waking up past noon on a daily basis. To be fair, her husband is a media personality who typically arrives home from work past midnight. That does indeed give them sufficient justification to stay longer in slumber-land each morning. This practice does lead to certain oddities though. He goes for his ‘morning’ walk at 1 pm, heat-waves and appalled onlookers notwithstanding. They once returned from a night out only to meet the neighbour’s son who was off on an early morning jog!

Early risers clearly have the edge in life. By the time most of us wake up, they’ve been through their morning rituals, enjoyed their walk, had their tea, and read the daily news. They’re also likely to have made long distance calls before dawn to those similarly inclined. Thus, by the time the sun warms up they’re likely to have discussed all varieties of ‘men, matters, and affairs’ with a dozen people.

The upshot of these varying tendencies is that such extreme contrasts often exist in the same household. Weeks pass before the younger lot (typically late risers) and the older lot (normally early birds) come face to face.  It’s almost as if they live in different time zones and different countries.

All over the country, things are likely to be pretty much the same in this respect, one would think. If the man of the house, any house, decides to take a day off from work, he’d probably find his son emerging from his room at about 10 am and that too in a ‘rubbing-eyes’ mode. After fooling around for a while the lad would probably dash off to college in a rush whilst simultaneously zipping up his jeans and sending text messages on his phone. His father would undoubtedly be left shaking his head and burying himself deeper into his newspaper.

Some lucky families have come to a perfect understanding though. My sister, a teacher, and her husband, a doctor, wake up at 4 am each day in order to be done with their daily chores and to spend quality time together before their frantic schedules begin. My sister cooks all the meals for the day before the sun rises and is done with all her household work by 6 am!

Word has evidently gotten around about their ways. It is learnt that the garbage man turns up at their house every day at five in the morning. And when the good doctor had to undergo a small surgery himself, his operation was actually listed for 5.30 am, an unheard of hour for such an intricate activity. One only hopes that the operating team had gone to bed nice and early the previous night!

One thing’s for sure. 5 o’clock in the evening is probably the only time of day when one can hope to invite such contrasting creatures together for a celebration. At any other hour, one type or the other would probably be found yawning away to glory!