I am currently sitting over a steaming bowl of tamarind chickpeas and listening to Buddhist chants ebb through my window from the nearby temple. Evening has set in on yet another Sri Lankan day of running about to and fro from office buildings, stores, administrative posts and bureaucratic stepping stones, only to succeed in a single goal: accomplishing absolutely nothing. For days we’ve been trying to get library cards to the university, a swimming pass, internet and trivial things like buying vegetables or meeting with the head of a department. After days of not understanding why the one person who needs to sign the one paper that would allow me to accomplish the measly task at hand is perpetually not at work, I come to the realization: relativity is at play. Sri Lanka is profoundly, inexorably and unavoidably engulfed in what is known as “Island time.” Island time is by no means a rare phenomena, and in fact, is a quite prevalent feature of ocean dwelling landmasses and otherwise. A mixture of culture, ample relaxation, heavy dosages of heat and the incessant reliance on old-colonial-paper-work-run-bureaucracy are several factors that I have identified as primarily contributors to this very real Einsteinian distortion. For the control freak or easily flustered this kind of lifestyle might be the tipping point for a near emotional breakdown, but to be honest, I find myself relishing in its absurdity.
Ode to Island time!