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Nepali Time


Recently, while leaving a remark in my status update on Facebook, an American friend wrote an interesting comment. He said “with usual Californian lateness.” I don’t know what she exactly meant by that, however, I interpreted it as “arriving late is very common in California.”

The term hit my mind hard because we in Nepal also refer to the “Nepali time”, which means it is common to arrive late because it is characteristic of the Nepalese people. Not arriving on time, not completing tasks within the stipulated timeframe, procrastination, dilly dallying are more readily accepted in Nepal.

Sometimes punctual people are mocked at. I have a friend who is very punctual. People often say to him, “It is 10:15 for you, but for others it is 10 sharp.”

Being late is accepted everywhere, from business meetings to family functions, from offices to parties. The government as well as the private sector has fixed working hours, however, the nature of “being late” evades this rule.

The standard working schedule determined by our government is seven hours (including one hour tea break) six days a week. According to the official calendar, Sunday is the beginning of the week, and one has to work from Sunday to Friday, from 10 in the morning to 5 in the evening. Saturday is a holiday, and Friday is a half working day.

Working hours in the private sector are different from those of the government. Working hours differ from organization to organization, however, the common practice is 8 hours of duty (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) with one hour lunch break. Some private organizations have a six-day working schedule (Sunday to Friday) while others have five days (Monday to Friday). In some private organizations, working overtime is mandatory, and involves working till 9 in the evening.

Since the Nepalese people have their own “Nepali time,” they don’t work as many hours as required, and this happens mostly in the government offices. There is even a Nepali proverb that says “Government work…when will the sun set?”

I am not an exception to this “Nepali time.” I try not to be late, I try to always make it on time, however, there is something that stops me from being punctual, finishing work in time. Since I am always late for everything, I always work to a tight schedule. For instance, I have seven days to finish a certain work, but I don’t start working until the sixth day. When I finally begin the job, I am in a hurry to complete it.

Do you feel comfortable working on a tight schedule, or are you stressed out?

To tell you the truth, I love working to a tight schedule because I am more efficient at my job.

Working on a tight schedule makes me more professional, more resourceful, and more efficient. Well this is not an excuse to my “Nepali time” habit.

When I choose to work to a tight schedule, I save time and am able to do a lot of work in a short period of time. Working on a tight schedule means understanding the value of time. When we are able to understand the importance of time, we will never squander it. But then we all have our own “time.”

By Binaya Ghimire