5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes

I am not sure if this is limited only to India or Indians, but it is something that I have noticed a lot here and around us Indians. You call up someone and ask them to do something or ask them how long it’ll take them to come. They’ll say, “5 minutes”, or “10 minutes”, or “15 minutes”. An hour later, and the problem has still not been resolved or the person has not yet arrived. You call again, and you’ll get the same spiel or something like, he’s already left “x” minutes ago. Blah blah.

Is this something that’s unique to India? I’ve experienced this enough times to the point where I don’t really believe it when someone gives me this sort of an estimate. Even if they say “1 hour” I’m not really sure. And this is not me being distrustful — it’s a feeling born out of experience.

(An aside: When I was studying in the US, the Indian Student Association get togethers would inevitably start late, sometimes even up to an hour or so. And, most people laughed it off saying that we were on Indian Standard Time. The hilarity always eluded me.)

I’d much rather someone tell me “half an hour” or “1 hour” and have a problem fixed by that time rather than having to follow up after the customary “5 minutes”.

What’s your experience been like?

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2 thoughts on “5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes

  1. This is also true when you ask for the wait time at restaurant.

    I wonder if we are more optimistic and give the best option. For example, if I had a helicopter, I would have reached in 5 min. If a patron dies of heart attack right now, we will have your table ready in 10 min.

    • Heh. I forgot about restaurants. I wonder if people think that customers will leave if they say 15 or 20 minutes because even if they’re truthful, customers may wonder if 15 minutes actually means 1 hour. It’s a vicious circle.

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