Thursday, July 12, 2012
The meaning of Patience... and I thought I knew what it was.
I have always thought I was generally a patient person. Whenever I'm at a restaurant and there is a 20 minute wait, I don't really mind. When I am driving, and the person in front of me doesn't turn left fast enough, it doesn't really bother me... when it came to losing my patience, it was a rare occasion. Living in India has proven the very opposite. Before coming to India, I took a prep class where we learned about the host culture, and I remember one memorable lesson about the perception of time. I remember learning that people in India were under polychronic time, meaning rigid scheduling and being efficient with time, is not a priority. Monochronic time is when there are time limits, rigid schedules, etc (much like the U.S.A and Japan). Well, I remember thinking "oh I'm totally polychronic, I'm always late and I am really bad at keeping a rigid schedule". WRONG was I. No class could have ever prepared me for "Indian" time. I can't remember the first time that I experienced "Indian" time... but I know that it has happened numerous times since, and I thought that maybe it was a ONE time thing. My patience has wore extrememly thin at times. One example to illustrate what I am talking about is when Emma and I were in a big hurry to get somewhere and we needed to email the boys because we did not have a way to call them. We thought "let's send them an email to tell them where we are and then run to where we need to be". We scrambled around to find an internet cafe and when we got there, we saw that it was completely full... and one of the girls said "it will be just 5 minutes madam". Emma and I REALLY needed to be where we were going soon, but we thought 5 minutes really wouldn't be a problem..... 15 minutes later, and a little out of patience, I asked again "is there a spot open yet?" and again, the girl said "wait 10 minutes madam"... WHAT?? I was SO livid!! But don't worry, I didn't blow up on her, it was more of an internal battle than anything. OH!! I just remembered the first time I experienced "Indian" time. It as at the mall, the famous Brookfields mall... VERY well developed and I feel like I'm in America everytime I set foot in it... anyway, we bought our churidars and when you buy a churidar, sometimes they don't come with the sleeves sewn on, and so you buy it and then it is taken to a small tailoring room where they sew on sleeves. Well, they told us that our churidars would be ready in 30 minutes. After waiting an hour, I went up to the counter and demanded to know what had happened to our churidars... the girl gave me the answer that I wanted to hear, but not accurate at all. "It will be ready in 5 minutes ma'm".... 20 minutes later, I asked again and again, I received the same answer. I had never found myself more impatient than that day. I was SO annoyed that my churidar wasn't ready, and even more so at the fact that they lied about the time!!! But they weren't lying... that's just the way it is here in India. The random estimation of time is not said to purposely anger someone, or for the mere reason of lying... it's just that time is percieved differently! Waiting is something that India is EXPERT in. Sitting and waiting, and then sitting and waiting some more, is just life here. I did not know this then, but knowing it now, I find it a lot easier to be patient. Aside from the whole time perception, there are more things that have challenged my patience, I share only a few here. When I've been waiting to buy something at the shop, people will just cut in front of me, as if I were not standing there for 5 minutes already. When I've been at the mall and there are escalators, there have been small lines because a lot of Indian women are DEATHLY afraid to step onto them. When I've been waiting for the bus that I've have heard people say will come at a certain time, and it has come an hour or more, later (again with the time). When I've been at a restaurant, and seen something(s) I've wanted on the menu, and they've been out of what I've wanted to order. When we've approached someone on the street because we are lost, and the person won't know where the place is, he or she will seldom say "sorry I don't know", instead, we've been pointed to go one direction, while someone else a block later, will point us the opposite way. Emma's personal favorite: when we are looking for a good deal on an auto rickshaw and they absolutely REFUSE to lower their outrageously high prices... I probably sound like the biggest brat and that I dislike India and its inhabitants... well, don't worry, I actually love it. I have learned to deal with, and to be patient, and now when things like that happen (and happen they DO, and often) I find that I do not become impatient, but start to lay back and take it all in. Things are not this way in America, and it's going to feel different to be in a monochronic time frame again. So, I actually try to enjoy it while I can.