Hindi Language Blog

IST Posted by on Nov 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

If you’ve ever been invited to lunch or dinner in India, or if you’ve even arranged a meeting of sorts, you might have had a taste of IST or Indian Standard Time. IST is an inside joke that describes an Indian’s sense of time समय (sum-aye)or lack thereof.

If you are invited to a party at 7 p.m. ७ बजह  (saat bajah), it’s not only rude to show up on time, but you might even surprise and mildly annoy your host by being punctual. Hosts often plan their preparation schedules under the assumption that the first guest won’t arrive any sooner than an hour past the actual time.

Then there are also stages of being chronically late देरी से (dey-ree se).  A 10-minute delay १० मिनट का विलंब (Dus minute ka vilumb) is almost a given. A half-hour आधा घंटा (aadha ghunta) delay can be explained away by an innocuous “Arre yaar, thoda late ho gaya.” अरे यार थोड़ा लेट हो गया। (“Hey, buddy, I got a little late.”) It’s only when the delay approaches 45 minutes पौना घंटा (pauna ghunta) that brows begin to get furrowed and impatience sets in. Under such circumstances, one might consider killing waiting time by visiting a nearby tea stall for a cup of tea चाय (chai). 

Visitors to the country are often boggled by this uniquely Indian trait. This outsider’s account of adjustment to IST  gives a light-hearted first person look into one such person’s experiences.

[Note: IST is merely an observed generalization and the Indian population is not all devoid of punctual citizens.]


Let us listen to this conversation between a two friends who are supposed to meet at 6 p.m. for a movie that starts at 7:30 p.m.

Friend 1 to Friend 2 (over the phone): अच्छा, शामको  ६  बजह थिएटर के बाहर मिलते हैं।
Accha, sham-ko chhah baje theater ke baahar milte hain.
(OK, let’s meet outside the theater at 6 p.m. this evening.)

(Friend 1 arrives at the theater at 6:15 p.m. Friend 2 has still not arrived. She calls him again.)

Friend 1: अरे कहाँ हो तुम? ६:१५ बज गये।
Arre, kahaan ho tum? Savaa-chhey baj gaye.
(Hey, where are you? It’s already 6:15.)

Friend 2: बस अभी पहुँच ही रहा हूँ।  १५ मिनट में आ जाऊँगा।
Bus abhi pahunch hi raha hoon. Pundh-rah minute mein aa jaaoonga.
(I’m almost there. I’ll be there in 15 minutes.)

(30 minutes later, Friend 2 has still not arrived.)

Friend 1 (Calling another 30 minutes later): और कितना समय लगेगा?
Aur kitna samay lagega?
(How much more time will you take?)

Friend 2: हाँ हाँ, बस ५ मिनट।
Haan, haan, bus paanch minute.
(Yes, yes, just 5 minutes.)

Friend 1(getting irritated): जल्दी करो वर्ना सिनेमा के टिकट नहीं मिलेंगे।
Jaldi karo varna cinema kay ticket nahin milenge.
(Hurry or the movie tickets will not be available any more.)

(Friend 2 arrives at 7:35 p.m. The movie tickets have sold out. Disappointed, they head out to drink a cup of tea.)

Conversation Vocabulary

समय                                             sum-aye (time )

७ बजह                                         saat bajah (7 p.m.)

देरी से                                          dey-ree se (late)

१० मिनट का विलंब                      dus minute ka vilumb (10-minute delay)

विलंब                                           vilumb (delay)

आधा घंटा                                    aadha ghunta (half hour )

अरे यार                                       Arre yaar(Hey, buddy)

थोड़ा                                         thoda (a little)

५ मिनट                                       paanch minute (5 minutes)

पौना घंटा                                     pauna ghunta (45 minutes)

चाय                                            chai (tea)

शामको                                       shaam-ko (in the evening. शाम/shaam = evening)

बाहर                                          baahar (outside)

६:१५ बज गये                             Savaa-chhey baj gaye. (It is already 6:15. ) बजना/bajna (inf.) = to strike

अभी                                       ub-hee (now)

पहुँच रहा हूँ                               pahunch raha hoon (am arriving now) masc.

१५ मिनट                                  pundh-rah minute (15 minutes)

घंटा                                         ghunta (hour) [singular]

घंटे                                          ghuntay (hours) [plural]

एक घंटा                                ek ghunta (one hour)



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About the Author: Nitya

Namaste, friends. My name is Nitya. I was born and raised in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). I'm a native Hindi speaker. However, as life took me through school, college, work, and waves of friends from different parts of India, my repertoire of Hindi flavors and dialects grew and added dimension to my native fluency. Casual, formal, colloquial, and regional ... Hindi is a language with incredible variety and localization. Through this blog, I will help you learn Hindi through conversations, vocabulary, colloquialisms, and glimpses of Indian culture. आओ, मिलकर हिंदी सीखते हैं। (Aao, milkar Hindi seekhte hain!) Come, let's learn Hindi together.


  1. Sonia:

    Hola, muchas gracias, por enseñarnos parte de su cultura, de su lenguaje, recibe saludos cordiales desde México