Hurrying on Holiday


‘We’re on holiday. We’re in a hurry,’ the guest said when the taxi arrived without seatbelts in the back which he had requested.

Someone in our office fell down on that one. The taxi SHOULD have had the unusual-in-India addition of back-seat seat belts because the guest had asked for it.

But when we duly sorted out the problem, offered profuse apologies, gave chilled cucumber sodas during the delay, it was the guest’ s statement above that divided the office.

Indians just can’t get their heads around why we time ourselves to the hilt even on HOLIDAY. A few minutes here or there are just not significant in the Indian psyche. Here in Kerala it’s dead casual and laid-back. You are the guest and God is in the guest. So we will cheerfully wait for you.

Try telling that to  westerner! It’s another east/west divide.

But as a westerner myself who has lived and worked in India for more than a decade I understand both points of view. Which one do I think is right? Which is wiser? Which is better for health and well-being? There I must bow my head in favour of the Indian battalion. Do fifteen minutes really matter when you’re on holiday?

They shouldn’t but it can make you mad as hell. I would proffer though that it was the negligence on our part that should have been the irritant. To endure an additional short wait in comfortable surroundings really shouldn’t merit the displeasure the guest felt.

He angered himself – never a nice emotion – and then accordingly our office staff too after his rant.

‘East is east and west is west and ne’er the twain shall meet’. The guy was right more than a century ago. And very often he’s still right today. Pity though.