One thing Indians are notorious for is being late. Call it stereotyping, call it over generalization, but it’s true. Punctuality is rare, but ironically, lack thereof doesn’t go unnoticed. When I was in India, punctuality was strictly enforced in school, but nowhere else. Every time I walked in past the morning prayers, I’d wait in line along with the other students who missed the harsh chimes of the school bell, to get the principal to sign off in my progress book indicating that I arrived late. I’d then have to get this complaint signed by my parents, and if I received more than 6, that could be cause for a brief suspension. I often wondered if the principal had nothing better to do than write complaints in latecomers’ notebooks. So, lateness was punished in schools, but there hardly consequences for it elsewhere. I grew accustomed to the erratic schedules of public transportation. It’s inconvenient, because you need to be at the pickup location at the originally scheduled time, in the off chance that the train or bus was on time. Other than that, you’re left waiting with your bags and your kids, and it’s anyone’s guess when your ride will arrive. In college, members of the Indian Students Association would print flyers advertising the organization’s biggest production of the year, India Night. The orange, white, green, and blue text on the paper would indicate that the show is set to start at 6pm when, in fact, it isn’t actually scheduled to commence until 7:00pm. The persons responsible for this make a conscious decision to purposely print an earlier showtime to account for people operating on IST, or Indian Standard Time. My non-Indian friends attending the show would show up at 6pm, and they would be befuddled at the empty auditorium, with its maroon folding seats and dimly lit stage. The rest of the crowd would start rolling in at 6:45pm, and some inevitable technical difficulty would lead to the show getting delayed from 7pm to 7:30pm. This is what happened every single year. I’m making an effort to be more punctual. I’m trying to keep lateness from becoming the habit.
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