What Time Is It?

Since I am considering a return trip to India later this year, I got to reflecting on my past trips there. As I did, I thought about some of the cultural differences between the United States and India. One of the greatest is the view of time here vs. there. Here, time is cherished as a very valuable commodity ("time is money"). Therefore, Americans can become very impatient waiting in long lines or irritated by a "chatty" cashier. Americans also value punctuality. Nothing is more bothersome to many then when a work colleague is late for a meeting or when a concert doesn't get going "on time!".

In India it is very different. Time is not nearly as valued as relationships. Punctuality is measured by hours ...not minutes. I learned this on my very first trip. We were preparing for a dedication of a new health clinic. The stated start time was 4:00 PM. The actual start time was approximately 5:30. And was anyone upset by that? Of course  - us five Americans who were present!

So when it comes to the use of time. Who's right? Americans or Indians? The answer? Both! One view is not better than the other, although I believe we Americans could learn something from our Indian friends (and I will leave it to Indians to say whether or not they could learn something from us Americans!). Sometimes I find myself wishing that we could be a bit more relaxed when it comes to our schedules. I think the Indians (and other cultures which are similar) are on to something here. Relationships are important ... and they are more important than the tick of the clock and the date on the calendar.

So what am I suggesting? Throw away your planning calendar and ditch your watch? Of course not! To do so would place you in a lot of hot water with a lot of people (after all, we live in the United States, not India!). But what I do suggest is that we all make relationships (and the cultivation of them) a priority. Build them into your schedules. Life is about far more than getting done the most you can accomplish in a 24 hour period. Take some of your valuable time and spend it with someone you love! Your live will be richer for it!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


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