Newsflash: time dilates when you travel

26 Jan

Everyone notices it. Time speeds up as you age. The last year went by so much more quickly than those years I spent in college, which were just huge, endless. I read somewhere that this happens because novelty of experience declines. We settle down, things become self-similar. Self-similarity tends to slip by quickly. Beyond actually settling down, we get lazy, having worked out our way of seeing things.

But then you travel, and the speeding is reversed for a time. I am a student again. Everything is new. I am processing new information almost at every moment. Things are uncomfortably not the way I am used to having them. And the effect is: time slows down.

I had my first, wildly disorienting experience of it yesterday. I taught a class, then came back to my apartment, then went out for a walk in the mall, where life happens here, then for a walk around the neighborhood, and dinner in an Indian vegetarian restaurant with only locals. If I had done this at home it would have counted as a leisurely day. But here everything was different. The mall was full of women in niqabs (just the eyes showing), women in niqabs *having a good time*. The restaurant was the kind where they don’t give you cutlery with your curry. You eat with your hands (or rather with your right hand) and then at the end you go to the “hand washing station.”

Anyway, later that evening I was in bed and thinking, oh no, I missed an appointment I was supposed to have had Wednesday! I was feeling quite bad about it, amazed at the toll jetlag takes. You see, I thought it was at least Thursday. And it was only after a moment that I realized, no, it’s still Tuesday! I really couldn’t believe it. How is it possible that the class I had taught had occurred *only that morning*? Adventures in time travel.

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One Response to “Newsflash: time dilates when you travel”

  1. George January 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    Time goes by when ur having fun but ur right about changes slowing it down. I also found that changes help the brain to function. Before we moved from suburbs to city I was forgetting words and names. Since we moved we have had to adapt to new circumstances like streets, stores, transportation etc. I’m not forgetting words anymore. So time is passing more slowly and enjoyably.

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