“I’m almost always free.”

I read this ranty post recently about how people love to say they are busy as an excuse for being perpetually late. That if you are one of those people, your lack of respect for people’s time screams rudeness and selfishness. Read the post here.

Planning to be late is a typically desi habit. People generally don’t want to be on time because it would make them look like a loser, someone without anything of importance to do. Because we are all busy in this hyper-social day and age. Busy carefully and painstakingly crafting our image in the eyes of others. Almost everything we do seems to be for other people’s benefit (and no, not in a charitable way).

First one to show up at a wedding? Nope, let’s time our arrival with the opening of the buffet table so that we can cram all our conversation over dinner and tell people how hard it was to make time to come.

First one to dinner at someone’s place? That would make my hosts think I had nothing else planned today… oh, the humiliation.

First one at a coffee date with friends? How utterly embarrassing to sit there on my own and wait for others to show up… what would other diners think of me? Etc etc.

You know what? I’m guilty of all of the above.

I’ve planned showing up as late as possible to weddings so that I have to make minimal conversation with other guests before I push an envelope into the bride/groom’s hand, nibble on some biryani and jet off so that the entire affair lasts less than an hour if I’m lucky. Likewise for countless dinners/ lunches/ coffee plans. But I’ll blame all that on my social anxiety of the past which thankfully I have put way behind me.

So while I no longer “plan” to be late, I do end up showing up a few to several minutes behind scheduled time more often than I’d like to admit. Something always seems to come up at the last moment, cutting into and beyond the buffer I had kept for such eventualities.

And with a baby in tow now, diaper blowouts, unexpectedly long naps or just plain old tantrums inevitably get in the way of my best intentions. My husband’s previous office gatherings had a rule – everyone was allowed to be late by a total of  30 minutes per offspring. After all, whoever said the following must have quite obviously been talking about parents:

Now though, I no longer feel the need to tell people that I’m really busy. Like the ranty post guy very rightly said, we are all busy. This is not a good enough excuse to be late after committing to a set time. Repeatedly. It  also seems showoff-y because it is exactly that – a pretense, a manifestation of the need for validation.

My days are a blur just like every body else’s. Even though I’m currently taking a break from paid employment, there’s always someone or something that needs my attention, chores to be done, food to be cooked,  everyday Skype calls with my own mommy and other conversations to be had, emails to be checked, necessary reading to be done and yada yada. I keep wishing for the block of free time in which I could get cozy with my ever increasing pile of books, get past season 2 of The Good Wife or get my daily dose of Hum TV dramas. Sadly (or not), I haven’t had free time to do all this in ages.

But today when someone asked me what day or time to meet would suit me, I found myself saying “Whenever is fine by me, I’m generally always free.”

I’m always free. Who says that these days? Who would even want to admit that?

I say this to people talking about their calendars jam-packed till April 2017 and to those saying they need to check their planners if they have a one hour slot free three weeks from now. Then there’s me being hopelessly uncool saying any day, any time works for me.

I can shuffle things around my day, leave the laundry till tomorrow and the dirty dishes in the sink, and go out for coffee and conversation whenever someone asks these days. It’s a luxury, I know, and likely very shortlived.

So while I can, I happily say I’m almost always free. Does that make me seem like the loser that people try hard not to be seen as? Forever uncool, that’s me perhaps. And that’s fine by me.

About the author


View all posts