clock close upBack in August I asked how late does your cultural clock run and there were several comments that highlighted how relative such a thing as common as time can be. Feel free to add to the discussion if there are some cultures you’ve visited where clocks that run perpetually fast, slow, or right on time.

  • Dan: Last year I went to the Dominican Republic for a week of surfing. Every morning I was up at 6am to get a lift along to the break in the hope that I would see the sunrise. The guy arrived between 30 to 45 minutes later than expected every morning without fail, so I kept on missing the sunrise. Despite this, I still turned up on time every morning just in case, as I’m used to things being on time. On the final day I decided to get a mototaxi instead and just as I arrived the sun was beginning to appear.
  • Cuckoo: Well, in India generally people are late (not me !). It can be anything between 15 minutes to several hours depending on the person. People generally think that if they are on time, they lose their importance. Funny eh?
  • Deniz: In Morocco, people (and events) tend to run about 30-45 minutes late, which is not unlike Turkey! It’s actually kind of nice just going with the flow and not having to stress out about being on time. I know being late annoys many people, but when in Rome…I think it’s a lifestyle worth getting used to!
  • Linguist-in-Waiting: Oh, I am somewhat of a non-conformist when it comes to the cultural clock thing. Filipinos are known for being chronically tardy. If a party is said to begin at 6:00 PM, people won’t show up until an hour later. However, I lived in Japan between the ages of 13-18, when these social skills were becoming more and more important (what do you care if you’re on time or not, when all you do is tag along your parents as a little kid?). So I tend to be early, and honor the mentioned time as much as I can. I suppose, having a very reliable transportation system in Japan also helped too: which now makes me annoyed whenever the buses here in North America run late.
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No matter where you are in the world you’ll have to adjust both your watch (or iPhone) to the local time but it’s hard to adapt your internal clock to the cultural pace of life around you. Whether it’s faster or slower you can set your watch to South American time no matter what your preference.

[photo by: steve.grosbois]