Posted tagged ‘European time’

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

August 24, 2017

Okay, we’re starting with the gross part of my day’s musings. Maddie, my cat, now 17, has surprisingly shown the prowess of her youth, her long ago hunting days. Last night I heard a thud, a loud thud, and knew it had to be Maddie as she wasn’t with me. Being both worried and curious, I got up to investigate but Maddie came into the room before I could. She was on the other side of the table, out of my sight, when I heard crunching (here’s where it gets gross so if you want to leave, please do so). I checked and saw she was eating the remains of a baby mouse, actually only half a mouse, the top half. I made suitable sounds of being grossed out, shooed Maddie away and used two catalogues to pick up the remains which I then tossed outside. My big takeaway from this is there are mice again even though I paid my own Pied Piper. I’m putting a trap down in case there are more.

The day is beautiful. It will be 79˚ or so, but the humidity seems to have disappeared. I have a few things on my list to keep me busy, and I have to drive friends to the Boston bus, but that’s it for the planned part of my day.

Less tomorrow is a Ghananism, my identifier for English adaptations Ghanaians have coined. Less tomorrow was used when something was promised for a certain day but wasn’t ready. For example, when I was told a dress from the seamstress would be ready on Tuesday, I’d go to pick it up, but it was never ready. The seamstress would tell me less tomorrow which didn’t necessarily mean Wednesday. It just meant sometime in the future. I came to believe Ghanaians used less tomorrow for Europeans, white people, who seemed to need a specific day. Ghanaians are more casual with time.

It wasn’t long before I embraced loose time, before I accepted Ghanaian time, which really meant anytime, instead of European time. If I tell my friends to arrive here at 5:30 for a soirée, I expect them around 5:30. Were I to tell my Ghanaians friends the same, they could arrive at 7 or even 8 and still be considered on time.

My training college worked on clock time, a necessity to keep the day on task. Planes left Kotoka Airport in Accra pretty much on time, but the rest of Ghana had its own pace, and I, after a while, also fell into that pace. If I hadn’t, I would have been driven crazy.

In my retirement, I have gone back to whenever time, to Ghanaian time, with some exceptions like doctors or plays or dinner reservations. I figure what I don’t get done today will get done less tomorrow.

“But what minutes! Count them by sensation, and not by calendars, and each moment is a day.”

August 20, 2015

We have rejoined the world. The doors and windows are open to the breeze. The stale air is disappearing. It is still hot but not unbearably hot. Here in the dark den all three animals are sleeping near me, each in her special spot. The breeze is coming mostly from the north, from the window behind me. Pleasant best describes the morning. I usually shy away from using generic adjectives. I was, after all, an English teacher, but I think pleasant conjures all the best of today: the sun, the clean, dry air and most of all the breeze.

When I was a kid, I had little concept of time other than a few minutes, an hour and maybe as far away as tomorrow. “Are we there yet?” drove my father and every father crazy, but it was because we had been in the car for what seemed like hours or even days so we figured we had to be there no matter how far away there was. We had countdowns to birthdays and the best of all days, Christmas, but the whole concept was a little blurry. Three weeks until Christmas really didn’t mean a whole lot to us. Even the number of days in three weeks didn’t help. We understood two days or maybe three days, but we never really caught on until the big day was close, like a day away. When you’re six, every day is endless.

Time in Ghana was frustrating at first. Six o’clock meant six o’clock to us but not to a Ghanaian to whom six o’clock meant whenever. If I invited someone to my house, I was always asked if I meant African or European time. I had been raised to be punctual, a courteous sign of respect, so it took me a while to unlearn European time. I learned to be patient and to wait. People would come in their own time. Lorries would leave when they were full. Stores would open when the owners got there. Dresses would be finished when the seamstress got around to finishing them.

I had to be on time for my classes and to take the government bus, but that was it. I came to like Ghanaian time. I was never late to anything. Things got done whenever. Life was slow and easy. I didn’t even wear a watch, still don’t.


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