My high school band teacher once said, "If you're early, you're on time, if you're on time, you're late, if you're late, you're dead," the common Georgian version seems to be, "If you're early, you're crazy, if you're on time, you're early, if you're late, you're on time." The Georgians certainly aren't unique in this stereotype, most Mediterranean peoples fit this tendency of perpetual lateness - and being similar to other Mediterranean people is something Georgians take pride in, except in regards to pizza.* It's the Northerners in Europe that have the stereotype of always being on-time, like Germans, Swedes, and Estonians. As for Russians, they seem all over the map, as some people I've met say they're quite punctual and others say they have no sense of time whatever. In my personal experience in regards to Russians, it's true.**
As for me, I grew up in mid-Western
Tulsa, a driving city that has always seemed
big on punctuality, and I've always learned it's extremely rude to be late. And
if something is rude to other people, it means they are not considering those
other people; so then if someone else is late, it's because they're not
considering you. I first came to work in Texas,
where punctuality also seems to be important, except for
"fashionable" people, and as we know, fashion comes from France, where
it's fashionable to be rude, and thus late. Living in Georgia, I've
found people are usually about half an hour or an hour late to almost any sort
of engagement, as though they've got a schedule like an American dentist. The
usual excuse is traffic - as if no one has learned that traffic is just about
always the same given certain times - but the usual actual reason is that they
bumped into someone they knew while on the way somewhere and breaking away from
someone for the reason of a schedule is more rude than actually making it to an
appointment on time. At least, that's the only reasoning I can wrap my head
around. However, as soon as you stick a Georgian behind the wheel of a car,
they become the most anxious people about getting somewhere on time or early.
It's a transformation that is almost as complete as Bruce Banner turning into
the Incredible Hulk.***
Having lived in other places abroad, I've found myself more inclined to punctuality, though I've learned to master time so that I can be lazy about getting anywhere, hating to rush. If you calculate the rough time it takes to be somewhere, and then plan for that, you can take your time with anything. Good time management allows a naturally lazy person to be lazy about everything. Which is why I've grown to be a master at time management - I hate rushing anywhere. And personally, I like the journey almost as much as the destination, so I like to give myself enough time to walk and take the bus and whatever else is needed without ever worrying about being late. Then I can let my mind wander and go through it's creative process, thinking about songs or stories or just enjoying the very breath of life that sweeps the city streets in all their congestion and madness.
From what I saw of
Poland, I could tell the Polish
were big on being on-time to things, but in the typical, maddeningly Slavic
inconsistent consistency. And Beata, my hostess, truly reflected this. She just
hated waiting - and making other people wait - to such an extent that she
eliminated all waiting times for public transit - causing her, to her dismay,
to often be late. Where we could stroll from her house to the bus stop in five
minutes and have a two minute possible wait, she would rather just run from her
house to the bus stop in 3 minutes and make it just before the bus closed the
doors. How she perfected this manner of travel, I have no idea, but it always
seemed to work for her, and I guess served as a form of exercise, since she was
always running from one place to the next.
From the moment I met Beata at the airport, we were on the run. We first ran to ATM so I could withdraw some cash. Then we ran to the tourist desk to find out where to buy a train ticket. Then we ran to the little shop that sold train tickets. All so that we could make it to the train on time. When we found we were late for the train, Beata threw up her arms and was angry. "Was that the last train?" I asked. "No, it wasn't, but we will have to wait twenty minutes now!" "That's not so bad is it?"
One night, we decided to visit the historic Villa Nuova just outside of
to see a light show. At the palace, they were doing an Alice in Wonderland themed holiday light
decoration. As Hasaan and his wife both had to work, we met them in the evening
at a small bar mliecny, or milk bar, a Communist era type cafe that serves a
surprisingly small amount of milk products for being called a milk bar. Mostly
milk bars serve dumplings and beer, which is fine by me, I suppose, since I do
rather beer to milk. And the dumplings in Poland
have a far greater variety than the four types in Georgia, so I was both impressed
and satisfied with the selection, choosing the dumplings stuffed with spinach
and feta. Since we both had to wait for the working class folk that were my
friends and we had to eat, we had a somewhat late start getting to the palace.
"We will be too late!" Beata chanted in the back seat of the car. She clutched her hands tight, watching as our car only meandered through the streets of the downtown.
"Relax, we won't be too late," I reassured her. "And if we are, no big deal. We'll just go get a beer somewhere around there."
"But I want you to see the place, to enjoy it," she said. It was her honest intention, though her fear was not well founded, as I already had a positive impression of the city and country, just from my wandering downtown and our short walking tour of the old town.
"I enjoy drinking beer, too." The light show was somewhat underwhelming and small, though neat. However, what was really overwhelming was the tasty sausage and the male-female ratio in the bar we went to afterwards. The tasty sausage I'm referring to was emanating the smell that made me starving as we waited for my order, and not something alluding to the male-female ratio. As for the ratio, it was something around 5 - 1, with women in the majority, which led me to the thought if I ever become a single man again, then I'll find myself moving to Poland (though I was equally impressed with Lithuania, so it's a real toss-up between the countries of the formerly great commonwealth). And the women, by the way, looked as though any one of them could have starred in this video:
Of course, as I mentioned in the last blog, the trip ended in the Powilnom district on Nowy Swiat. While smoking our shisha and talking to the other world-traveling Poles, Beata suddenly stood up and made the statement, "We have to go, we will be late for our train!" Thus ending my trip to
with a brisk, drunken jog, making it just in time to catch our way back home.
*Mayonnaise on pizza guys, really? After 5 years, I still can't get over this.
** Stereotypes in general are not rules or truths in regards to individual people and shouldn't be depended upon when judging an individual. I state this because some of my readers apparently don't have the mental capacity to wholly understand that and that they don't understand that most American humor relies off of playing with stereotypes and making fun of those who believe in stereotypes.
***Again, a stereotype! Not true for everyone! Though, really, it is true for the vast majority of Georgians.****
*****Actually, not really. It's true. Georgians are pretty much, mostly the worst drivers I've ever seen.