07 January 2007

it's all in the timing

I, so I've been told, have an excellent internal clock. I choose to take that as a compliment. This was a great assest in voiceover work where fractions of seconds count. I do generally know what time it is and can accurately predict how long it will take to accomplish a task, make a journey, etc. This is not an extraordinary talent, it's not on my cv under special skills, but it is a useful one.

"It is important to Americans to be on time," a student's parent told me once when she was apologizing for being late. And, I admit that it is important to me. I make every effort to be punctual. I think it's polite. I think it's respectful. However, the rest of the world doesn't necessarily view punctuality the same way. There are very different concepts of time out there. (I have been know to comment somewhat disparagingly on people's "loose concept of time".)

The following is from Mission to Tashkent by F.M.Bailey, a British secret service agent to Turkestan shortly after the Russian revolution. The following took place in October 1918 as he was fleeing the city of Tashkent upon word of his imminent arrest by the Bolsheviks. He was in a critical, life-or-death situation and was being assisted by a Russian guide. It just goes proves the adage, "The more things change, the more they remain the same."

I then learnt one of the intensely annoying failings of Russians of some classes. I was awake and ready early, but instead of starting they lighted a samovar and made tea. This went on till about nine. They then said that it was too late to reach the journey's end planned for that day so we would start at noon and make a short journey to Iskander village and spend the night there. This, of course, meant stopping in another house and giving more people the chance to talk to me and notice me. I could not do much. Markov was the only man who knew who I was and any undue haste or pressure might have made the others suspicious. At noon someone put up another samovar and my impatience was getting unbearable. Markov then said that there was a guard on the road and that we could not pass this till after dark, so it would be unsafe to start till four. At four someone started another samovar and then it was decided that it was too late to start at all and that we would go the next day! I later got used to this sort of thing, but at first under the peculiar circumstances of my case it was somewhat annoying.

This made me laugh! I hope you found it amusing as well. School starts back tomorrow, so my posting is likely to suffer. But, I'll endeavour to do my best!


Deb said...

Cute story! That's about how it seems. Deadline of 90 days. On day 90 they'll say it wasn't enough time wait another 90 days!!!!!

I'm also a very ontime person. I don't like being late.

Anonymous said...

It is situations like these that call to mind the Russian word "Kashmar!" Although it translates as "nightmare", somehow it means so much more than that to me. A very funny story as long as you don't have to live it.

By the way, did I tell you that the closing on my Kiev apartment began at 11 am (I was there 15 min. early, of course) and ended around 3?

Suz said...

I can so relate with that Russian mindset of time and tea!

When we were with V in October, our time was so limited and so precious. The Orph. Social Worker kept making us tea which was so lovely of her, but I didn't want to waste a minute of my time with V and when you have tea (and you absolutely cannot decline) you must sit at the table and "savor it" Oh it was so frustrating.

I didn't even visit the "loo" the whole time even if I was desperate because I didn't want to waste a precious minute with V!

Calico Sky said...

Oh how I have missed your posts!!