Connecting Expats In Delhi
Culture happens. What? Yeah, I said, ‘culture happens’! It means that what you see around you – ALL AROUND YOU – is a reflection and demonstration of the values, priorities and beliefs of the people living there. Here are some things about the people and culture of Indian that I really enjoy:
1) Respect for elders. It’s wonderful to see the high value placed on showing respect for your elders. Whether it’s giving up your seat or your place in line, or quieting down because an older person is going to speak, Indians know that deference is always to be given to the elders around you. Observing this around me is like a breath of fresh air. [NOTE: Sadly, the respect can fall completely apart when up against a class distinction, in which case a young boy of 10 yrs old can feel free to shout orders at a 60 year old man].
2) Flexibility with rules (which would otherwise swamp you) – The word is “adjust”; the mindset is “rules are to be viewed as broad guidelines; exceptions can be found when the conditions warrant it”. The potentially frustrating list of requirements to buy a motorcycle or install a telephone could so easily overwhelm a person if it weren’t for the ever-present reality that “adjustments can be made”. One time, my wife and I had to take a train across the North of India, but we had no confirmed seats. The trains were packed, and we could not obtain tickets. It was vacation season. We started chatting with some complete strangers from Assam who told us, “Just jump on the train. Once you’re on, find the Ticket Master; he’ll find a way to adjust for you.” They were right!
3) Prices: You have to love the prices here! Our apartment rent is under US$250/mo, and our cable TV costs about $5/month. If I’m not careful, I can catch myself complaining if a nice dinner out costs me more than $5 each! I put about $10 US on my mobile phone two months ago, and still have about $1 left today! Are you kidding?!!
4) General friendliness. We find that people treat us very graciously for the most part. And if we make the slightest effort to be friendly ourselves and to use a bit of Hindi, then we’re nearly GUARANTEED that we’ll find a smile and a helping hand. This friendliness is even more outstanding among the working class people. Being a 'stranger' and an outsider doesn't seem to cause people to withhold their friendliness, and we're sure grateful for that!
5) Himalaya foothills. We live at the base of these foothills. A 40 min drive gets us up to a hill town at 7,000 feet from where the majestic Himalayas can be seen. There’s no end to the hiking and walking around these hills, and it provides wonderful refreshment from the noise of the city.
6) Social basis for Business. I love the sense of loyalty and special treatment that I get after I’ve established a long-term relationship with a vender or service provider. Even if I’m a “small spender”, if the merchant recognizes me from a few prior visits, I will be treated as a valued friend and customer. One business friend of mine said to me, “I’m glad our product broke, because it forced you to have to come back here and sit with me while we fix it!” (Later I assured him I would keep visiting, even if he sold me equipment that DOESN’T break! :).
What do YOU know about the people and culture of India? What do you know about other cultures that you wish you could find in your own home culture? Leave a comment; start a conversation!
See all the related posts at Culture Happens.