Punctuality–or the lack of it– at Events in the City

One of the major problems organizers seem to be facing…or causing…is that of starting an event on time. Whether it’s a music concert, a film screening, a play, or a quiz….nowadays I find that it’s not just a matter of minutes, but of hours, that the delay is likely to be.

Over this weekend, I attended two events. One was at Suchitra Film Society, in Banashanakari; the theme was Water Conservation, and there were some skits followed by screening of some wildlife films. I wanted to see two of these…Wild Dog Diaries, made by Kripakar and Senani-Hegde, and The Queen of Trees, made by Deeble and Stone. On Saturday, we were told that the former film would be screened at 6.30pm, according to the schedule, and I arrived there in haste at 7pm, thinking I would be late…by the time the skit and the other movie screenings (the one on the Flamingos at Sewri Flats had to be abandoned as the DVD would not play properly) were over, it was past 8.45pm. I could not stay on any longer, and had to leave without ever seeing the movie.

On Sunday afternoon, KQA (Karnataka Quiz Foundation), had scheduled a “Love Quiz” (it was very interesting indeed, but that’s not the point of this post) for 1pm, followed by the March Open Quiz at 3 pm. My team-mates and I arrived punctually at 2.30pm to register…and found that the “Love Quiz” had just started!

When I go to Alliance Francaise or Chowdiah Memorial for music performances or plays, too, it’s quite common to have the evening’s program start anywhere from twenty to forty-five minutes late….of course, this weekend’s delay of several hours was setting a new benchmark for me. But apparently, at music performances by major bands at the Bangalore Palace, it is quite usual for the event to start a couple of hours late.

Why can’t we be either punctual, or announce a more realistic time and stick to it? I moderate a family quiz group and I always run into the same problem there. The quiz is meant to start at 9.30pm; but invariably, the friends I talk to say, “Oh, but at 9.30pm no one will come, so we will also go late instead of going and waiting.” All I can say is, if everyone thinks that, of course there’s going to be no one at the venue!

I still remember that when I went for the Lalbagh walk with Vijay Thiruvady a couple of years ago, much was made of my having to be punctual. But when I arrived at ten minutes to 7am, I found that Vijay had to wait for more than twenty minutes for the others, who neither turned up nor informed him that they would be absent, and I had, as the solitary walker, cool my heels while I waited. Of course Vijay apologized, but it really was not his fault..but then, perhaps he should have started at 7am sharp whether the others turned up or not.

For this, I must praise Ranga Shankara. They have made a point of starting at 7.30pm for all their performances, and actually do turn away late-comers, who keep protesting that traffic delayed them and so they should be allowed in. But as Ranga Shankara points out, if they allow one lot of late-comers in, what can they do the next time someone comes a little later than that? Where does one draw the line? “We draw it at 7.30pm,” say the people at RS; “at 7.25pm, the lower door is shut, and at 7.30pm, the upper door is closed, also.” Audiences have learnt to accept this ruling and are in their places at the appointed time.

We seem to make it on time for flights, trains, and movies…why can’t we do this at other events too? What makes the difference in our minds? Why do organizers take such a lassiez-faire attitude towards their patrons’ time?

It is so disheartening for the artiste/filmmaker who is putting up his/her creation/performance at the fag end of the evening, to have a painfully thin sprinkling of an audience attending.

I do wish we could be more punctual. Unpunctuality results in punctual people being unnecessarily penalized and having their time wasted! And the tendency, the next time, is to go late oneself….

I do realize that the exigencies of Bangalore traffic are something to be reckoned with; but I do feel one has to budget for it and leave from one’s starting-point suitably early. And if circumstances beyond one’s control delay one too much, it’s as well to cancel the trip…..When I left Hosur at 4pm one evening to attend a wedding reception at 7.30pm in the city, and arrived home only at 8pm, I did not go to the reception at all…because I would have reached when everyone was packing up after a long and tiring day!

Punctuality is supposed to be the “politeness of kings”. Obviously, the rest of us don’t believe in it! :)

1 Comment so far

  1. ahumanbean on March 24th, 2008 @ 12:30 pm

    Oraganisers starting any program late is incredibly disrespectful to those who make the effort to arrive on time.

    The Indo-German C. of Commerce started one of their (sponsored) symphony orcheatra program late by 35 minutes recently at Chowdiah…this is the Indo-German C of C.! We all know that Germans are renowned for their punctuality.

    The solution? As in everything else – Speak up. I tell organisers after the 16th minyte to stop being disrespectful to my companions and I when we are on time. Doesn’t work …this is Bangalore! … but at least you have let them know how silly this behaviour is.

    Now – don’t get me started on the seat-hoggers. You know – the ones who place a plastic bag on the seat next to them – for the duration of the program, one hour into the program they turn out to be the sorry Waiting For Godots.

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