I often joke  with people who don’t know me well about my (almost) always being punctual by saying: “I am German, I can’t be unpunctual even if I try.” And that is probably not even such a far-fetched explanation.

Punctuality was drilled into us from an early age on and punctuality in Germany – at least for my parents generations – means not only that you are on time, but that – when in doubt – you arrive a few minutes early, rather than late.  The rational being that the food is being prepared and likely ready upon arrival, by the time one has taken off the coats and gotten  situated at the table the eager hostess brings out the appetizer (or it might already be waiting on the table).

My poarents idea of punctuality, pic: kellsmurthwaite.wordpress.com

Here in the US that would be considered very rude.  You do not under any circumstances arrive early. The hostess is likely still in the shower at 10 minutes before the official invitation time, or arranging the flowers or putting on mascara.  If for once the traffic gods were kind and you arrived a few minutes early here is what you do: sit in your car and listen to music, play with your iPhone, take a walk around the neighborhood, call your mom – do whatever to kill a few minutes so you show up about 15 minutes after the time indicated.

If you live in Silicon Valley and were invited by your Indian friends, this rule does not apply.  Your hostess is likely still in the shower about an hour after the official invitation time (less true for small dinner parties, definitely true for larger parties with buffet-style food).  Even my Indian friends admit that one has to allow for an “Indian hour”.  Te same, more or less, applies to Latin Americans.

I am still working on my coming late skills but by now I got the “still being in the shower by invitation time ” down.


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