Sunday, April 26, 2009

Being fashionably late!

The other day we had a little get-together at our house. One of our good friends didn't turn up and I called him.
"Hey," I said. "It's 8:30, you were supposed to be here at 8:00. Are you busy or something?"
" I'm not busy."
"Is your better half ready too?"
"So why aren't you here?" I was getting ticked off now.
"Let me step out of the house for a second......" A short pause. "Now I can talk. My better half says that if we get there on time, people are gonna say that we have nothing else to do."
"But at this time, you really don't have anything to do!" I said.
"I know, but we have to be fashionably late. Oh... she's calling me. I've to get back in the house now. And this conversation never took place." And he hung up.
I stared at the phone and couldn't help laughing.
So we are sometimes late, on purpose? To give the impression that we are very busy?!!

I have to admit that being late to social events is ingrained in Punjabi culture. Most of us (not all of us, lest I offend the few punctual people!) have the utmost disdain for being on time to a party or a social gathering. We even an acronym for it- IST. It actually means Indian Standard Time, but we all define it as "Indian Stretchable Time." If you want to have people over at your place, sometimes its a challenge to get everyone there at the same time.

So if we plan to have a get-together at 8 PM, for our punctual friends the time given is 8:00. For our punctuality-challenged friends, the time varies between 6-7 pm, as the lag time is generally 1-2 hours. Now you all can imagine the confusion if we cris-cross the timings on the invitation. And that has actually happened with us.....that our punctual friends were at our door at 6:00 pm (when my wife and I were still in our shorts!) and our timeliness-challenged friends started trickling in around 9:30 pm!!

We had to go to a party recently with a group of friends and I asked one of them about the time we were leaving.
"The party is 8:00 pm. So we should definitely be there by 9:30 pm," he said.
"9:30 pm?" I asked. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah," he replied. "We don't want to be late."
And it made perfect sense to me!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

The strength within....

A couple of weeks ago, we visited a beautiful town called Staunton. This small town has cobbled streets, a Presidential Library, American Shakespeare Center and a quaint downtown. We happened to be there because of our son's basketball tournament. His team went into the tournament as a top seed and promptly lost the first game they played. The coach had a team meeting right after the game. He didn't yell and he was not angry. He just said three lines.

"You guys know you are better than what you showed in the first game. Look within yourselves and recognize the mistakes you all made in this game. Then find the strength to improve in the next game and play as a team."

After that, we all went to grab a bite. The team was quiet. The expression on the 14-yr old faces was different from whatever I have seen before. I guess I could call it resolute. They all knew that if they lost the next game, the tournament would be over for them. Well, they won the next three games and went on to win the tournament!!

So what happened? The 14-year old boys found the strength within themselves to realize their mistakes. So why is it so tough for grown-ups to admit theirs? Is it ego or is it complicated social situations? Or both? It takes a brave and mature person to admit that he or she made a mistake. We all make mistakes and we all have flaws. Nobody is perfect. (although a lot of us really think we are!) We should accept people as they are and be flexible in our approach to life.

"Blessed are the flexible, for they will never be bent out of shape!" ~ Mark Twain

Anyway, our weekend was a perfect family getaway. In between, we were able to squeeze in a trip to the University of Virginia, to watch our daughter's scintillating dance performance. The four of us were together in a beautiful town, on a picture perfect day and reinforced an important, basic lesson of life ---

"If we make a mistake, we should find the strength within ourselves to admit it, learn from it and never repeat it."