Tuesday, 2 March 2010

To be or not to be on time

As a rule, I try to be as punctual as possible for all my appointments but I am wondering whether I should start the late comer act. Generally you think that if you are punctual, it means that you take your rendezvous seriously and you are ready to give it the priority it deserves. It might be astonishing to hear that punctual people are not always the most liked. “Punctuality is the thief of time” declared Oscar Wilde in desperate anger. May be he turned up on time for a dinner and didn’t get food until the last guest arrived. “Punctuality is the virtue of the bored “said another equally popular satirist Evelyn Waugh. I know a person who said in a disarming manner, “I had to be there at five and I started out punctually at five” and so on. So I have decided that I should perhaps give myself airs and be just a little bit late from now on. I will tell you why.

The most important reason is that punctuality is no longer in. It belongs to the colonial imperial times when watches were the most popular Christmas or birthday presents. Today, if you are on time, this means that you have had nothing to do the whole day except waiting to be on time and that would never do. Being late for everything is the hall mark of youth or youthfulness if I may say so. It goes without saying that only grand mothers (this includes grand fathers but as a rule, they have far lesser appointments than grandmothers) are too soon for all appointments and end up waiting long boring hours at doctors' offices, airports and railway stations which is all very good for publishers of useless journals, super expensive airport coffee shops and an excellent source of income for paid toilets in railway stations.

Even the swiss, for whom punctuality is a national obsession, have started to give in. Of course, no self respecting French would dream of appearing on the dot for any important event. I have seen guests who don’t think twice about turning up two hours late for a dinner appointment and others who come in earlier than needed and are made to drink beer and eat chips thus putting them in a thoroughly bad mood. So when the late arrival turns up, fresh as mint (or daisy if you like) having spent precious hours on an invigorating shower, fresh make up (or a shave as the case may be) the early arrivals can only simply stare at the insolence of it, too bogged down by the code of polite behaviour to give vent to their frustration. “I am so sorry I kept you all waiting” gushes the late arriver not meaning it for a single moment “not at all” murmur the disgruntled hungry crowd and mutter politely. A chilly atmosphere sets in but thankfully at this point, the entrĂ©e is served and everyone is happy.

So from now on, the era of looking at the watch every twenty seconds and craning my neck in eight different directions is past. As they say, an early bird catches the worm but I say it is the early worm that gets caught! Perhaps I should buy this T shirt.


  1. Hi rethu
    Good one.True for all Indians with IST known as Indian Strechtable time. No one who is anyone comes on time as the great party saying goes in Bombay.

  2. I didnt know the party saying in Bombay.
    I feel that the youth are even more lax about punctuality. Is this really true or is it just me getting old and getting nostalgic about good old times..

  3. Hi Rethu

    Very nice. I like the way you had links and everything. I am slowly learning from my better half that being on time is for the unfashionable. But all the Americans are mostly on time for their events; except the Indian Americans here use the "Indian Stretchable time"

  4. I enjoyed reading this one. Keep it coming.