Nepali Time and Time Off in this country

In what he refers to as "The Irrelevance of Time in Nepal", this nepali writer expresses the opinion that this question of TIME SOMETHING in Nepal is the biggest single issue for Westerners to get a hold of when visiting this country. For full reading of NEPALI TIME click: … nepal.html
In that article, he puts forward the thesis that if you are not in total harmony about the irrelevance of time here, you will be frustrated each day you are here until you leave. But then, and most fortunately, he goes on to advise to be "be diligent" on this issue, and most constructively offers good and valuable tips and ways as to how foreign visitors can cope with the problem.

It is interesting because international experts, too, appear to have done much research on this subject of what they will commonly refer to as "Time Discipline in Different Cultures" and conclude that in countries like Pakistan, India, Tibet and Nepal - where traditionally many people will often share large homes or attend group/social functions with their extended families - the pace in such countries is slow - and the people there "take a much more relaxed attitude toward TIME"  This, they add, will be in sharp contrast, with what they call a highly individualistic "future oriented" country like the USA, for example, which leads to a "TIME IS MONEY" mindset.
Experts' correlation studies also show that "in almost all cases...the wealthier the society, the faster it tends to MOVE"
(Footnote: For the World Bank, it is a matter of record that Nepal is Asia's 3rd poorest country)
In my personal experience, I think it is true that we have to adjust to conditions here and that includes doing our best to accept "nepali time" if we are to avoid frustration, confusion, misunderstandings, disappointments etc. Nepali time obviously bears no relation to Swiss or Germanic time or exactitude, to be sure! It is important to know that in Nepal, TIME is very lax, so when for example a nepali person on nepali time says "I'll be there at 2 p.m." basically, he means: "when I get there" or "if and when I can get there"!!
For foreigners who are trying to do large business here, like these friends of mine in the wholesale business or other buyers from New York, London or Paris, time is of the essence for them with timely deliveries abroad  of any quantity orders they place here in Nepal. I am not talking about small retail stuff, but orders large enough to fill a 14-20 foot container or more, which then has to be shipped via Calcutta, by sea, and where shipping alone may well take say 1-2 months additional. Typically, these kinds of big buyers will be well aware of the above and be ok. I know at least two foreign companies of this type who, mindful of the TIME problem here will typically place their orders in Nepal as early as April, in order to receive the goods in September/October, with plenty of leeway time for the oncoming Christmas season....all because of this time problem here!
But let's just say that doing large scale business in Nepal does require much careful advanced planning, and nothing here in Nepal can be left to chance. 
Add to the above, TIME OFF in Nepal - and for details of this other phenomenon impacting the economy and business in general - I would refer them to what another nepali writer, Manish Jha - and what he had to say when he reported that Nepal tops the list of countries with the greatest number of public holidays with 36 days a year.

For details, click: … breaks,788

Like Manish Jha says and I quote this excerpt: "An average civil servant or office goer in Nepal has 36 days off a year, and is also entitled to a 15 day annual leave, 12 days casual leave, and six days of sick leave - bringing the total number of holidays to 69. With most people working barely 244 days in a year, productivity is seriously affected."
Unless my maths are wacko, 365 minus 244 translates into 121 days of TIME OFF p.a.
And 121 days = Four (4) months of time off/absence from work in any given year?

If this information is correct, I must admit I find it surprising. I was not aware of it.   
Comments anyone?

Well said. I don't know of any other country on earth where people only work 8 months out of the year. Public holidays, endless number of festivals.... even 5 days during which time crows, dogs, oxen and cows are all honored and worshiped. That's all very fine - it's the nepali way - but then should we be surprised that the county is not moving forward or developing?
Like many foreign observers have pointed out , Nepal is a country which relishes living on its past and totally unable, to date - or even willing - to consider adapting to living in the present. Clearly, Nepal is a past oriented culture and resists change at all levels of society.
Like this other contributor to Expat has just written recently, Nepal is still living in the 15th century.
Will that "nepali mindset" change any time soon?
I doubt it myself!
Ah, good old Nepal.

My view is that this in not good for business.
During Dashain which this year starts September 21 to October 5, 2017 - the longest and most auspicious festival of Nepal - everyone stays home with their families and all offices are closed.
Then Durga Puja, followed by two day Mahanavami and Vijaya Dasami of course, then Kojagram Purnima, and not so long after that, the famous "Festival of Lights" and Laxmi Puja after that.
It's all great and personally I love the Festival of Lights myself, but my friends who are in the export business have a different view when they are told that their shipment of nepali goods are still sitting in Kathmandu because the nepali customs are closed, nothing can be cleared or shipped because everyone is away anyway. Try calmly to explain to them why their goods bound for abroad can't go...with the buyers in Paris or London phoning to ask when delivery of the goods they purchased in Nepal will be made?
In the west, there is a phrase "business before pleasure"
In Nepal,'s a different story!!

If we are talking about buying in local stores, at retail level, most foreign buyers probably won't mind being kept waiting to pick up their goods for a few days, by even a week or so.This is no big deal . Boli, boli!
On the other hand, for any large scale orders - what we call quantity/wholesale buying of nepalese goods, delivery of "made in Nepal" goods by suppliers here must be delivered on time, within a well determined time frame, if Nepal wants to become competitive on the world markets.
That's where the crunch comes.
Some will say "shape up, or ship out"! In this business context, time is of the essence and the nepalis better understand that and, if necessary, change their outdated ways of doing business. Business is business everywhere.
Nepal is no exception.

I think I am looking at this from a different view point.

In the Netherlands we have 365 days in a year (on average) - as in most countries.
About 52 Saturdays and 52 Sundays are 'by default' for most people a holiday.
That is already 104 days 'time off'.
Then there are some public holidays like the mayor Christian celebrations and a couple of other religion special days and a hand full of special days not related to religions. My estimate would be of maybe 10 to 15 days, depending on the actual day these special days are celebrated on (could be a Saturday or Sunday, so a holiday already).
On top of that most office workers have some 20 to 25 personal holidays a year they can claim as 'time off' for themselves.
That all quickly adds up to some 134 - 144 'time off' days.
And I hear nobody saying that the Netherlands is an unworkable country for businesses because of all these holidays...

In Nepal the people have by default only the Saturday off. That accounts for 52 'time off' days. The other 'time off' days are spread out over the year, with a high concentration of closed offices and businesses during the Dashain and Tihar festivals.

The other holidays people take when they feel like it, and in general doesn't affect a companies productivity too much.

So, yes, during Dashian and Tihar business in Nepal is affected severely, but then, try to do 'business' in Europe between 24 December and 7 January... Difficult ...

In my idea it is not the amount of 'time off' days, which is not _that_ extreme, but the idea of people being unavailable when you would want them to be available to you, that causes grief. It doesn't seem that much of a deal to me, and I can work around all these holidays quite nicely. The biggest difficulty is getting an understanding when you can expect shops and offices to be closed, and when they would be open for business.

Indeed, Nepal has a different culture, and does not share the European or USA holiday schedule. Nor does it complain or care much about their different schedule. If you want to do business with Nepal, then deal with the different Nepalese holiday schedule. Just as well as Nepalese businesses have to work with the default Sunday closure of their European and USA based partners.

My advise: get yourself a good Nepalese calendar. It will explain many of the holidays you can expect to run into. And then plan accordingly...

Very good advice. I can't say I disagree with most of what has been said by other contributors either.
In addition to time and time off issue, though, a word or two about productivity. Putting it another way, what determines the level of productivity during the time the people are present and active at work, be it at the office, in the field or at the factory in Nepal?
No expert, I am tempted to say that probably a good many factors enter in the equation of what we can call the "quality of human capital".  More to it, and surely not limited to physical presence of the worker/laborer/productive agent in the work place, certainly. In this context, we might cite these determining/contributing factors: degree and level of ability of those employees, their education, quality of training, discipline/self discipline, creativity, etc.
For their part, experts are quick to point out that "Productivity is a key factor in economics" and referring to this part of Asia, said experts are unanimous in saying that countries with low productivity are among the poorest of the planet. And because productivity is such a major factor in an economy's ability to grow, it will explain why Nepal is still very much at LDC (least developed country) level way behind Bhutan, behind Bangladesh and only slightly ahead of Afghanistan after all these decades (Source: LDC Report 2014)
In trying to answer the question about "Why do firms in developing countries have low productivity? most experts here again find evidence, based on their studies, that "firms in developing countries are often badly managed" 
My take on this is that it is crucial, really, for Nepal to boost productivity within. Country has a long road ahead. Time yes, but also effort. To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill ....with "blood, sweat and tears".

To be or not to be a failed State

A long time expat resident of Nepal recently expressed a sense of frustration in working with nepalis when, as he put it, he increasingly finds that here, too many people take the attitude that things are due to them without working. Like he says "they want everything for nothing -- They take, but they don't give".
In trying to find excuses for them, some observers will no doubt retort by pointing out that the nepalis are poor...and that is the reason...and/or that we should not be surprised by this kind of attitude, and that we are in Asia type of thing and that this should be expected...or that if we expats don't like it, we should leave!
But if contributors to Expat will take two minutes to re-read Dr. Bikalpa Paudel's views, previously cited here, this particular expat's comments, they will find an uncanny similarity when what the good nepali Doctor said about his own people, when he wrote:
1. We seldom work hard and we hardly work smart
2. We want the quick and easy way to success
3. Everybody wants a cut, guarantee
Personally, I feel that Dr. Paudel has hit the nail on the head and as they say, money does not grow on trees - and I tempted to add - neither in Nepal or anywhere else.
But do the nepalese in general realize this flaw in their attitude?
I doubt it, and to me that the real shame, not to say with serious consequences. Without work, how can Nepal possibly develop and prosper?
Will they finally "get it" and change their mindset?
For their own sake and self interest at the national level, I sincerely hope so. But from from my personal perspective, it is one of the many good reasons why Nepal has such problems getting out of LDC status (i.e. rising above the least developed status) and remains one of the poorest countries in the world.
Can't say my friend is wrong, and I agree with the nepali Doctor's analysis.

Count on the nepalis to take shortcuts too. Here they've got that down to a science. How to start educating people that this is not the way to go? Like you say, for their own sake, they better start wising up pretty soon as a nation, to avoid reaching failed state status.

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