Thursday, May 18, 2006

On Your Time, Not Mine!

Indians, and I’m not talking of those with feathers in their heads and names like Big Chief Skookum, have, in general, very little respect for others. Especially other people’s time. I’ll give you two examples of what I’m talking about.


1) Punctuality:

I wouldn’t be surprised if no Indian language has a word for “punctuality”, because it seems like this word doesn’t exist for an Indian. Someone showing up for a 7.00 p.m. engagement at 7.15 might well be the first person there! An invitation that says 8.30 automatically implies 9.00. Arriving on time, would only surprise the hosts, who in all probability would still be getting ready.

This is something that everyone knows. It’s ‘expected’ that everyone will be late. And it’s contagious. If I believe no one else is going to show up on time, then I have little incentive to do so myself. I find this extremely irritating when I’m meeting someone. However, the simplest method of dealing with it is to set an adjust factor and arrive suitably late yourself, so that you’re actually ‘on time’. Of course, if by some chance the other person happens to make it on time, you look bad.

As the old joke goes, IST (Indian Standard Time) is always an hour behind the actual time -- if you’re supposed to meet at 4.00 p.m. IST, then expect it to be at 5.00 p.m.!


2) Queues:

This is the other word that’s missing from some Indians’ vocabularies -- ‘queue’. It’s not uncommon to see people blatantly ignore a well formed queue and push their way to the front of it, all in the name of “getting their work done quickly”. Telling them that’s there’s a queue and they should respect it is either met with an “Oh, my thing will only take a minute...” or an “I have some extremely important work elsewhere... [and hence can’t be bothered to follow your quaint queuing customs]”. I find this both ridiculous and disrespectful.

When I was at the Passport Office last month, I witnessed two ladies not only brazenly break the queue but also chastise the guy who objected by claiming that he “did know how to respect women” and suchlike. Unfortunately this load of horse manure cowed down the man -- though I’m not sure why -- and he decided letting two tempestuous matrons get ahead of him was less of an evil than facing their illogical arguments.

Such uncouth (or un‘queue’th, if you wish) behavior is witnessed everywhere from government offices to wedding buffets. At this year’s annual dinner in college, we placed ourselves at the end of queue that had formed at the buffet table. After us, at least 20-30 students arrived to eat; but after that we were still almost the last people in the queue! Almost all of them chose to edge their way into the queue wherever they could!


What is so hard in coming on time or waiting your turn in a queue? Why not learn how to respect other people’s time for once.

(Okay, I’m late for a meeting now. I’m Indian, you know!)

7 comments:

"A" said...

Reminds me of this time when I was at the ticket queue at borivali station for a pass and this lady (child in arms) went forth blatantly breaking the serpentine queue. Now it so happened that that lady did the mistake of doing it just as I reached the counter. So I began telling her politely that she should stand in queue like the rest of us “ fools” …..and I got a reply is the best bihari accent I could get “ minds your owns biuzinezz” ( or may be that’s what I think she said )…………and since I liked her assault on me with “ the queens-of-bihars” English …I gave her a piece of my mind in English. So she gets a bit petrified that I was coming her way that she says “ aapko dikta nahi BACCHA HAI!!!” ….so I look at her and say “ meri galti thodihinaa hai “ ( so she was a bit confused to what I was referring to …the line breakage or the BACCHA!!!) .

But I guess that day the ticket window guy ( or guy at ticket window as they call them ) was on my side and said to the lady ( in hindi of course) “ cant give u a ticket …people behind may make a ruckus” and so gives me the ticket …….EXIT STAGE LEFT.

MaK-D said...

i too hate when people are late. I was waiting for people to show up for my b'day treat. I called them at 2. A few came by 2:15 2:20one of them woke up at 2:30!!! and showed up 2 and a half hours late!!!!
The have no respect for other peoples time...and i could not do a couple of things which i had queued for that day.
As for queues...you just have to stand there and fight with those bastards

Arnold said...

"a" - hilarious story man! rofl!

mak-d - too bad, dude.. next time you know whom to call who'll be on time! *points to self*

_ð!®†ß¤¥ said...

Hey,Arnie, KT was late again.. Wasn't he?How late was he?
'a': almost similar situation.Except locale was a cinema hall,n the lady, a hot chic(twas adlabs,arnie,not unusual a place for hot chics to frequent).. I was just an onlooker.

Arnold said...

facesmasher - if it was a hot chick without a baby and you were just an onlooker then your story is NOTHING like "a"s!

"A" said...

Onlooker or not ....at least u had a hot chick present
[present : as in adjective and a noun ;-) ]

Arnold said...

"a" - nice joke, man!