Jennifer Solorio said it perfectly in her blog,
“‘If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.’ An American expression that I myself have lived by, or have at least tried to. It is rude to waste the time of those who expect you, because you must always remember, time is of the essence. Time is money.”
Since the first day of classes we have struggled with the students, and even faculty about the idea of time, a key difference between the cultures of the U.S. and India. Here, in India, it is perfectly acceptable to be 30 minutes “late” for a meeting because that is considered on time, in the U.S. it would be considered rude and disrespectful. At the request of the faculty and principle the Marquette faculty was asked to be strict regarding time. Classes start at 9:00 a.m. and the students are to be there before the class starts. At this point in time we are in the lab doing work so it is difficult to see if the students are exactly on time, but when we were in the classroom those who weren’t on time had to wait at the door until Carole or Dr. B said they could come in.
Now, there are times where the students, guests etc. can do the reverse. India time can mean 30 minutes early. My philosophy while in India is to be ready a reasonable amount of time before the designated time, but also bring something to entertain myself during the time I may be waiting.
There is also another aspect to India time and that is the duration of time a certain event or travel may take. Fr. Vinayak may say, “Oh yes, it is a short travel,” and that short travel can be the equivalent of an hour. It is all seemingly relative here because the culture is extremely relaxed. Coming from the United States’ culture where everything is go-go-go and time is of the essence it’s an adjustment, but it is also a cultural exchange as the students need to understand that a deadline is a deadline and when we say come to class at 9:00 a.m. we mean it.