Festival time is here again in Nepal. Scotland has basically Christmas and New Year, which kind of blend into one, and Easter. There are a few, what we call Bank Holidays—which just means public holidays when offices are closed and they are always on a Monday. And generally everyone has their annual leave. But overall there are around 10 public holidays throughout the year and 2-4 weeks annual leave depending on your employer’s policy. I’ve just done a quick count of Nepal public holidays for 2020 and have come up with 32. This includes some that not everyone will get (Christmas Day for example). But this figure does not take into account that time around Dashain and Tihar when employees simply disappear. So we can call that ‘annual leave’. Although in another country we would call it ‘unofficial leave’ and they wouldn’t be paid for it.Ever tried to not pay someone here for the days they simply didn’t turn up?
So overall it probably works out about the same number of days off in a year. But there are definitely more days in Nepal when the whole country is shut down for some festival or other. And there is a definite culture of taking that unofficial time off.
Then there are the working hours. With official offices still working 10am till 4pm in the winter, an hour longer in the summer, it’s no wonder private companies also don’t keep their doors open longer. I have noticed over the past couple of years that the traffic at 9am is much heavier. I assume from this that perhaps offices are opening earlier as previously at 9am the roads were pretty empty. Or is it just people trying to beat rush-hour traffic? Even if the working hours are say 9am till 5pm, how many staff are at their desk at 9am? Or at any given point during the working day?
I recall back in Edinburgh my bus time changed slightly meaning I was rushing into the office around 3 or 4 minutes before 9am. I was told by the boss that this was not on at all; take an earlier bus he said. Why? Because any office, or place of business opening at 9am expects to have their staff in place, calm from their journey, fresh from the bathroom, and probably with a cup of tea consumed in the break room by 9am. On the dot. Not still hanging up their coat and looking harassed from running from the bus stop.
What if that was implemented here?
Recently I had, what I can only describe as a meltdown, at my regular hairdresser. He had changed premises. Again. Sixth time in seven years. Because it was small and extremely busy he could not do what I had made the appointment for. Yet I was the only one in the room who had actually made an appointment, one week in advance, with a reminder one day prior. My thoughts ran something like ‘I didn’t get what I expected even after seven years of loyalty to him’. His thoughts probably ran something along the lines of ‘after seven years of being my customer, she didn’t have the understanding to come back another day’. To me it’s simply lack of planning (no appointment system) and lack of commitment to a long standing customer. To him—well I have no idea. Business as usual perhaps.
What if we had, functioning, appointment systems here?
I do think the number of public holidays will decrease and the work ethic will grow. Why? Because those who live or work overseas have ingested these habits. But in the short term, I feel, like their shoes, the majority will continue to leave their work ethics at the metaphoric door in the Arrival Hall