“I am a puritan on the issue of punctuality: 15 minutes before the movies, 20 minutes before theater, two hours or more before a flight, 30 minutes before an intercity train, etc.”

You can read a really funny piece of writing from Kevin D. Williamson here.

That is me alright.ย  Much to the dismay and frustration of many in my life, I am disgustingly punctual. This is considered to be high treason by my countrymen for who Indian Standard Time, affectionately known as Indian Stretchable Time is just a guide post to give a vague direction to an appointment.

I however take revenge whenever I can by acting very responsibly. For instance, if I observe someone in a restaurant constantly looking at her/his watch impatiently, I generally go across and say something like “s/he is not worth the trouble. If s/he can’t be punctual, for a date, imagine what it will be like when you are all dressed up and waiting at the altar!” I generally get a smile and an acknowledgement, but Indians will be Indians and that person would simply sit around and twiddle her.his thumb till the date landed up with nary an explanation! At least now with the advent of the mobile phone, some conversation does take place between them or perhaps with someone else to while away the time, but if you don’t have a phone, it could be a fascinating experience to present for others.

My son’s wedding was to have been officially conducted by a Registered Hindu Priest, who would be expected to affix his stamp with Registration Number and sign on a dotted line in a form filled up with other details of the persons getting married. We had arranged for a priest to come at 1200 noon so that the ceremony could be over with, and the families could have some time together before moving out for lunch which was booked at a restaurant for 1.00 pm. The priest simply stretched the time and I had to get all the guests to go for lunch on time and stayed behind to get the signature. He eventually came at 2.00 pm and I was able to just make it to lunch as the guests were settling down for dessert.

Just part of our life and nothing to get excited about or blow a gasket for.

I have a delightful young friend, let me call her Ash who will ring me up and fix an appointment to meet up with me and will inevitably be late by at least an hour and often more. On one occasion she made it on time and it was such an unforgettable occasion that we celebrated.

Another one pulled a real puzzle on me just a week ago when we were to meet for a late lunch at 3.00 pm and after carefully arranging various activities between 1.00 and 2.30 pm which included some shopping and a meeting with a friend, I got a call informing me that she was already at the restaurant and where the hell was I? Okay she was ahead of time by over an hour, but would that mean that she was punctual? Can someone give a reasonable answer to that puzzle?

I will of course send links to this post to these two ladies and hopefully they will offer their comments too.

32 thoughts on “Punctuality.”

  1. Being early is rude – and should never be held against the one on time. When throwing a dinner party, everything perfectly timed, you can bet your favourite frying pan that one guest will be early EARLY. Mind you, I was totally baffled when I arrived first on these shores to receive (formal) invitations: “Seven thirty for Eight”. What was that supposed to mean? Not being averse to compromise I’d arrive at quarter to eight. Ignore the Swiss. They tend to take everything that Germans do to a higher level. If that’s possible.

    On the whole I agree one should be punctual. Walked out of an interview once when left waiting for twenty minutes. If they treat you like that before they have even met you how would they treat you once employed? Having said that: I am very very very forgiving of friends and family being late. It happens. Mind you, and I know this on good authority (mine) that being late for something means one thing and one thing only: You don’t want to be where you are heading. It’s a classic.

    Ursula recently posted..CH4

    1. I agree Ursula, being too early is a shocker and when I experienced such situation I had some problems to gratiously welcome the early commers.

  2. I’m a stickler for time, learnt this from my father, who in turn learnt from his British boss, when he began working. He managed to maintain a clean record, and would haul up any one reporting into him would ever run late. The fury of his wrath would ensure that things went according to his plan. I imbibed this habit and much to my wonder I found none around me thought this was an important trait. As my father did I could insist those reporting to me be on time. They found the going tough, tried their best but yes at times they would manufacture excuses to cry becoming late. One funny instance was an assistant when asked why he was late, said that a “snake” entered his house. I didn’t know what to do, but reconciled that people will do according to their convenience, and there is no point your fretting about it. And those to whom I was reporting to would never meet their timings either. You have to understand that they are busy (you are not), and transact whatever you have to. Assuming they always come late, and you go late, they will say the meeting is over, fortunately this never happened.
    The point I’m trying to make here is that it’s a commitment, and if you can’t honor even a small thing like this, “how can I trust anyone with any responsibility?”
    Accept the truth, that people will do only as per their convenience, and you as per your value system.

    1. I too was brought up like that and that training further hardened by some strict bosses in my early days of employee status. As Manager, when I could I kicked enough ass to convert some lazy bones too!

  3. Excuse me! Who asked where the hell were you? We were both extra early and whiling away time not wanting to disturb the other. All i did was inform you that i was there and so would wait inside, and then you said that i should have told you i had reached earlier, instead of being nice and waiting for a while!!! In fact, you were upset that i hadn’t called the moment I was free because you were famished. Humph!!!!!!!! Here i was being nice trying to kill time as long as i good, got scolded for doing that, and now being told i wanted to know where the hell you were??????? I shall not be nice then.

    1. Mitali, that’s the spirit: Don’t be nice be honest. That way we make friends who may or may not be early, late or never. I myself am probably, this minute, making an enemy (you) by saying that I hate the expression “killing time”. KILLING time? it’s a crime if ever there was one. Wait, let the world go by, indulge in reverie (day dreams by another name) but never kill time. You’ll be dead soon enough. The benefit of that being that you won’t need to kill time because it got there first.

      Ursula recently posted..CH4

      1. Ursula, I was killing time. There was no where peaceful to wait or sit another than a very noisy mall. Normally, I do indulge in day-dreams … but it was difficult that day ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. not to forget that i kept the date despite being in pain with one side of my face all swollen up from a cat-bite … no one appreciates anything anymore ๐Ÿ™ :'(

    1. Oh, yes, I should have considered that. My apologies. Actually, I did not have the heart to remove the photograph from my desk top where I had stored it till I sent it to you.

  5. Hello Rummy,

    “Indian Stretchable Time” LOL LOL LOL and I thought there was only “African Stretchable Time” (most Africans are never on time, ever. You schedule an appointment for, let’s say, 14:00 and they will show up at 15:00). I am as punctual as the Big Ben: I detest being late.

    Explanations…they are worse than the actual act of being late. I have friends who practise the Indian/African Stretchable Time” and then offer the most spectacular explanations. I have a plan now: I leave; I don’t wait any longer.

    Being ahead one hour is not being punctual, it is being early – and when you are in a context of hosting people at your home, being early can be rather inconvenient.

    I loved this article, Rummy. You are a hoot.

    Max Coutinho recently posted..Comment: President Obama’s Address to the UN General Assembly

    1. Max, “stretchable time” as you call it has its charm. When you are on holiday.

      Mediterranean countries have ‘manana’ (later) down to a fine art – as, no doubt, you know. Friend who worked all over the world in a profession which is largely an exercise in logistics always gave Greeks (in particular) an arrival time about an hour earlier than scheduled. That way he wasn’t left waiting for too long.

      Ursula recently posted..CH4

    2. That post was on the drawing board for a long time. In fact from the time that I read the article linked in it. With the latest tipping point of the other lady coming late, I decided to publish it. I am glad that you enjoyed it.

  6. Our daughters say we are very predictable — almost never late, generally early, even when we are traveling across several states to visit.

    If we are too early, we drive around or go shopping to use up most of the extra time.

    I started to describe a recent incident where our punctuality was challenged, but it was long, so I made it into a blog post instead. http://exit78.com/on-time/
    Mike recently posted..On Time.

  7. My father was a stickler for punctuality. If we were early he would drive round the block. Jack was also a great time keeper and I still do my best to be on time. I HATE late comers, in my book they show no respect for their host/ess.
    Grannymar recently posted..A day early.

  8. I agree with Grannymar, latecomers show no respect for the people they’re meeting. I’m a bit of a stickler for punctuality too. I don’t see why people should be kept hanging about wondering if I’m ever coming, if I’ve fallen ill, if I’ve had an accident etc. Why not just turn up at the agreed time?
    nick recently posted..Forced to love

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