Wednesday, December 31st, 2008...7:22 am
Time Keeps On Moving (India Post)
I’ve been here in India almost one week and I’m not exactly sure what time it is here in Delhi (or in New York for that matter). My guess on the time is usually within a few hours and, surprisingly, that seems to be working out well enough for me. You punctual people might find this hard to believe (maybe a little less hard if you know me well). Here’s how I got to myself into this timeless state of being.
For some reason I had the assumption that Delhi was 9 hours ahead of east coast time. So when I got here I adjusted my blackberry to what I though was the correct time. I also arrived a day before the rest of the wedding party so I tried to figure out the basics (like time) on my own. I met up with Param and friends a few times those first couple of days and while I did seem to always be a bit early or late it wasn’t obvious enough to make me realize that my clock might be off. When Matt arrived he informed me that India was 9.5 hours difference and that I was off by 30 minutes. This was kind of weird to me. I have never heard of a country having a half hour time difference and I’m not sure why you would do that (Wikipedia explanation). But according to him, Matt knows everything so I adjusted my phone. Later in the day Gavin and a few other guys arrived who have been traveling to India frequently for work and they assured us Delhi (and all of India) was 10.5 hours difference from New York! This was too much for me to comprehend. For a dude who fancies himself as a math whiz I’m totally lost with the time here or there so I’ve given up.
The time confusion is also made possible by the lack of clocks in India. There is no clock in the room, none in the lobby and I’ve noticed a lack of watches on many native Indian people. This isn’t surprising if you’ve dealt with India or Indian people. They are notoriously late and overall have an utter lack of regard for being “on time”. Matt was flabbergasted when he realized he’s been one hour late for every single call he’s had with India in the last year. It’s even more flabbergasting (wow — not sure if I’ve used flabbergasted before in a blog post and just threw it down three times. I’ve just flabbergasted all over myself) to realize that he was able to get by being an hour late to every call.
I’m not an anxious business guy but when we roll into a big meeting 15 minutes late and I’m sweating bullets I will look over at Swapneal or Vinodh and they have absolutely no fear of any business consequences for our tardiness. These are both guys who can look at a 15 page document and instantly spot where you didn’t double space after a period. I’ve asked them about this a bunch of times and always get the response “we’re Indian”.
Interestingly, I’m getting used to this de-emphasis on time. It certainly helps that my schedule here is pretty leisurely but I must admit I’m getting good at being bad with time. The genesis of this started way before India. I don’t wear a watch because I’ve always figured that time was the last thing worth “watching”. My buddy Colby was once explaining how he has serious time anxiety. I thought about the concept and realized I really am not affected by that in the least. I mentioned it to Colby and he basically said “no shit bro”. If you ask my sisters, friends or anyone who tries to make social plans with me time isn’t a priority.
Each night the wedding event starts at 8pm. I take that to mean that I need to get there at some point before midnight. I schedule a massage for 3pm figuring I just needed to show up anytime in the afternoon. I’ve even extended this slack to not picking up the phone when it rings. I’m not sure how it’s related back to time but it seems appropriate. Plus, I’m already a professional at not checking my messages which basically means that communication takes place through this here blog or divine intervention with one of the thousands of Hindu Gods (I’m going with Vishnu).
Next time you go on vacation leave time behind. It feels great.