Bas Paanch Minute: What’s Five Minutes in Indian Standard Time?

Trains ho ya planes, everything in India runs according to desi stretchable time. But what exactly is the IST?

2 min read

(This is Episode 2 of Desi D, a video series about the desi way of living, told the desi way!)

P.S: You can follow me a.k.a Desi D at Facebook/DivyaniRattanpal)

Camera: Abhay Sharma
Editing and Graphics: Puneet Bhatia

Bas paanch minute! There – that’s the biggest desi fake news right there.

I mean now really, if you haven’t used the paanch minute bahaana ever in your lifetime, are you even a real desi? Only a true blue desi is blessed with the confidence to say they are just five minutes away, even when their wet ass is not yet out of the bathtub!

Our trains are not too far behind either; they too take their own sweet time to reach a destination; (aakhir zindagi ek safar hai suhana!). No surprise then, that 30% of them were running late in 2017-18.

And it’s often very difficult for pilots to decide whether they should take off or take an off when operating out of the Delhi and Mumbai airports; for they are (yes, you guessed it right!), among the world’s least punctual.

When Indians Got Azaadi from Angrezi Time

1st September 1947: Yes, that was the day when Indians got their own time zone (GMT+5:30 hours).

Brilliant stuff, this was. This meant India ka literally waqt aa chuka tha. Over time, though, of course, we succeeded in taking time literally in our own hands and creating a very desi version: the Indian Stretchable Time, that turned out to be more elastic than Rupa underwear.

Mera Time Kab Aayega?

Yes, that was the question people living in the Presidencies of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras were probably asking as they all had different time zones. Literally. Although going by that logic, we can also say that Calcutta has always been ahead of its time. Bengalis in the house, make some noise!

Revealed: The Reason Why Bombay Stars Are Late

The truth of the matter is that they are; they are just following a different time zone! How? Well, it goes back to the time when the Presidency of Bombay itself had three separate time zones: a different one for Mahim and a different one for Churchgate! And by the way, there was also a separate Railway Mean Time on top of it all. Of course, there was bound to be lots of confusion owing to these multiple time zones. Funnily enough, even the Governor of Bombay, Sir James Fergusson, (tenure: 1880 to 1885) couldn’t keep up, and missed his trains twice because of different Bombay and Railway time zones! Becharey Fergusson saab ka time theek nahin chal raha tha!

But no matter what, some things in India will always be on time:

  • Like regular shaadi reminders post 25
  • A cup of chai every 5 minutes
  • The closing time of government offices
  • And suprisingly, even the Delhi metro, although only 99% of the time

All said and done, Indians do have a very special relationship with time. Because while the rest of the world has yesterday and tomorrow, we have the same word for both, 'kal'. To aaj hi jeelo, kya pata kal ho naa ho!

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