Indian Timing

I was over an hour late the other day to meet a friend for her graduation ceremony and I was in all angry and flustered. Punctuality is not something that is associated with Indians. For someone who is punctual, this drives me insane. I hate being late and get really annoyed when I am made to be late. I hate being associated with “Indian Timing”.

Indian Timing is the term given by Indians to being late. Weddings, birthday and religious ceremonies rarely start on time. People visiting are late (Since getting married, we are always late when visiting). And people expect us to be late. I am not sure about other South Asian races, but Indians are notorious for being late.

Keeping time is something I have heard being referred to as being Western and even snobby. Maybe punctuality  was a part of western culture and possibly even to do with the upper classes. Maybe the Indian culture is Dali-esk in its relentess disregard on time. But for a culture where superstitions are based on time and for people who live in a world that runs on time, it’s about time…we kept time.


8 Comments to “Indian Timing”

  1. I completely agree – when you are late for a friend, you are telling them “my time is more important than your time”. However, there should be some leeway for genuine reasons for lateness.

    I have a cousin who always tells me “he’s on his way” and is late for EVERYTHING we have ever organised. It is painfully boring to wait for someone, especially if you are standing on high heels.

    I think we are changing .. slowly slowly. My mosque publishes a time that the Eid namaaz will be read and it is read exactly on time which is usually 10.00 am. To begin with there was a huge uproar as many of our aunties were arriving too late and missed the whole thing. Now, everyone arrives early.

  2. I like that we are relaxed and Medittaranean with our timigs. I was recently a LITTLE late for dinner at my (non-asian) friend’s house – about 20 mins late – and when I arrived they had already started eating without me.

    That is weird and rude – we would never make our guests feel guilty about being caught in traffic and feel awkward upon arrival!

  3. I feel that when you are late not only do you not value the other person’s time but you do not value your own time either!

    I try my best always to be on time, I would rather be early than late! What I hate most is being ready to go out and then my other half makes us late and being the woman I get blamed for it!

    If you are stuck in traffic then a simple phone call would suffice, it is courtesy more than anything else.

  4. Bhabhiji, this happens to me all the time. My other half is a ditherer and it can take him half an hour to get out of the door even if we are all waiting in the car.

    Yes, a bit rude to eat without you Jakey Bam. Maybe they were really hungry.

    I am really pleased that others are feeling one needs to be more on time.

    • I have learnt over the years to tell my other half that we need to be somewhere 30 mins earlier than we actually do and that way we have a better chance of getting to an appointment on time!

  5. Hi all,

    I hardly ever wear a watch and set my mobile 20 minutes fast but my friends and family don’t really get it. I am not the best with time keeping but I find this helps me. I tell my mum that I simply live in the future.

    I agree with Vakeel Bibi that it’s a power game. One of my old lecturers at Uni who specialised in Asia (including China etc) said that arriving late reaffirmed the control/power in the meeting. I do find poor time keeping rude but I think it matters who the person is and how regularly it happens with the same person.



  6. We were late for dinner on Saturday. My husband decided to include some last minute stops on the way. How irritating!

  7. I was watching QI last week and apparently punctuality was something that resembled the upper classes in the 19th century as they were the ones with watches and clocks. So I guess there is some element to the notion that punctuality is western and snobbish but really in 2011, the association with punctuality is very different.

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