Whenever my family throws a party, we set the start time a good hour before we expect people to show up.
But while IST, or Indian Standard Time, is a key part of entertaining back home, it makes for a slightly less entertaining part of my professional life.
I usually pride myself on being a pretty punctual person, but like my toasty summer tan, my time management skills seem to have faded. Rather than arriving early to meetings allowing for a few minutes to check Facebook or grab a coffee, I found that lately I emerge from the subway with five minutes to get to my destination and no clue as to where I am going. Running ensues. Sweaty panic is the result.
Like many of my Christmas sweaters, this was an unfortunate pattern. But when i got an interview for my dream job as an associate editor for a niche health magazine, I knew I had to change. I pulled the address off the magazine's website and set out an hour early for my 5pm interview.
I took the subway and arrived at the station with plenty of time and walked briskly down the street to the pinpointed address on my Google Maps. I arrived with time to spare…in front of a seniors home.
The Editor-In-Chief had mentioned that their offices were in a converted home but this was not quite what I was expecting.
I went up and down the street but there was no sign of the magazine's headquarters. Confused, I went into the UPS store next-door and presented them with the address and asked if they knew where I was supposed to be.
"Oh I know this magazine! This is their mailbox address," said the man behind the counter, smiling. I checked my watch. My interview was in 15 minutes.
I ran out of the UPS store while dialling the magazine to find out where their offices were. After leaving a frazzled message detailing my mistake, I typed the magazine's name into Google Maps and the search results returned an intersection a few kilometres away.
Hopped on the subway. Went one stop. Ran out and sprinted down to the Google Mapped area, hoping for some kind of sign or name plate. When I got to the intersection, all I saw were homes, lawns littered with kids' toys, and my watch that said I now had five minutes to knock on the right door.
Frantic, I punched the street name and the magazine name into Google, in search of a miracle. And as it always does, Google knew exactly what I was searching for. The results listed a business registered to a small house, two down from where I was standing.
I ran over and rang the doorbell. No answer. Peered in the window. No movement. I was standing on the driveway pondering what to do next when I heard, "Ishani, is that you?"
I turned around and saw the Editor-In-Chief standing on the front porch of the house, waving at me.
It was exactly 5pm.
I was sweaty, ready to drink a bucket of water, and more stressed than I had been on my first driving test, but I had made it on time.
Back home, IST may stand for Indian Standard Time, but in my world, it stands for a schedule unlike any other. In my world, I operate on Ishani Standard Time.