We have had people steadily coming and going in the past days and weeks and there have been a lot of talks about India compared to other countries and cultures. Obviously, Ramona is often asked what she likes about India or whether she found anything difficult here. She of course always mentioned one thing: the concept of ‘Indian Standard Time’ which is different to German punctuality! Which of course could throw her off balance at times!
It is really true – even though this happened mostly at the beginning of her time in India. It is quite logical: in Germany, it is normal for people to have quite a clear plan of what they will do in the next days. They even plan in advance for several weeks! It is just usual for a regular person to know where he or she will be next Friday. Or whether they have plans for Saturday the 5th. Or whether they can meet you at 3 pm the next day. If you make an appointment for a meeting, if you fix a time with them for any kind of common activity, they will make a mental note and probably write it down a bit later, too. They will be there at the exact right time. If they cannot, they will call you, write to you or let you know in some way.
In India, it’s different. Here, you cannot plan. No wait, you can – but there is no guarantee that your plans will work out the way they should! As a German – or a person of another nationality that take plans and punctuality more serious – you may take a mental note and you will make your plan. You cannot however rely on the Indian person to do the same!
If you make plans with a person, it may be that the other one was not completely serious about it. So you say ‘we should meet at the weekend’ and you think you actually fixed that plan but then you realize that the other one just said it to be polite or because it sounded nice that moment! He or she never actually thought to meet you!
Or you have called a person for a service, for example an electrician or a bank employee. The appointment is supposed to be at 11 am. You are ready and waiting at 11 am – but nobody arrives! You call and the answer can be ‘I am on the way!’ but you wait another two hours! Finally, it can very well happen that the other one doesn’t appear until the next day! You may get a call to tell you or you may not!
It can also happen that a group of four people was planning something together and you were preparing everything and are ready to go when all of a sudden, everyone gets into a talk and they decide to do something completely different! All of your preparations are for nothing – or at least postponed to another time.
It can drive you crazy – or you can lean back and relax. You can accept the change in speed and the fact that you always need a plan B. That’s how Ramona always tells our guests: when you are in India, relax and go with the flow – she has learned to do exactly that!