Concepts of Time

The Relativity of time isn’t just physical, but cultural.

Somewhere in the Caribbean, a pair of harried tourists, just off the plane from New York, rush to the taxi stand. Their body language and tone of voice communicate their impatience and anxiety as they ask when the van from the hotel will arrive. The taxi dispatcher looks absentmindedly at the water by the dock and says in a lilting voice, “Come soon.”

The Americans, being Americans, are made even more anxious and impatient by this answer, because they have not been given a precise time. But the taxi dispatcher, being from the Caribbean, sees no reason to hurry. The van is on its way over some rather treacherous mountain roads, and cannot go any faster than ...

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