When Time Isn’t Constant

Why is it that when you have the least time you always have the most to do? This week has been crazy. We’ve been having our final workshops, finishing up Nepali lessons, creating our installations for the exhibition, preparing for and attending a wedding, and planning our trip to Pokhara for our days off. I find that I’m constantly on the verge of tapping my foot or scowling at those around me who do not have the same concept of timing as I do. It certainly took me a while to adjust to the pace here in Nepal and as my stress levels rise I find myself slipping back into a western mindset.

In the US when you say 5:30 it means you should be there at 5:30 at the latest. In Nepal that may mean anything from 5:30 to 7:00. Even the days are flexible as conflicts arise last minute and classes move from one week to the next. Balancing my expectations for my productivity with the reality of time and resources here has been a challenge. For the most part I manage by employing a combination of two different strategies. The first is back up plans for even the back up plans. I carry notebooks, extra projects, and snacks with me wherever I go so when the man who came to do our mehndi was late I passed the time leaning on a wall and reading my book, or when I realized lunch wasn’t possible in my time frame I had a granola bar to tide me over while I worked. The second strategy, is less of a strategy to keep my productivity up, and more of one to keep me sane. Whenever I start getting frustrated I try to remind myself that I am a guest here and I should not expect everyone to conform to my cultural norms.

Learning to coordinate and connect the children to the art is a difficult task, and differing cultural expectations can make it even harder, but so far May and I are managing and hopefully we can bring this preparedness back home with us. Who knows maybe it will even be easy when everyone sees time the same.

Emiline Jacobs