An American, James and an Indian associate, Rohit are in a discussion over a video conference. James is referring to a keynote and explaining a critical Business change, and Rohit is listening to it with rapt attention. Rohit is nodding his head slightly forward periodically signalling ‘he is with the speaker, he is attentive, he is following the discussion, he is on the same page’. He was told to do so while attending college lectures.
James read the nodding of Rohit as – not being excited about the matter. Rohit hasn’t understood the explanation, is not with him or worst, he disagrees. The half nodding sent confusing signals to James.
Both are right as per the interpretation in their culture, yet there is a considerable miscommunication!
Indian culture: A lot of communication with Indians (and the Asians) is implied or implicit: body language, blinking eyes, hand signals. Tone, variation in voice need to be interpreted. The meaning of same action may also change as per the context. In short, one has to read between the lines. One has to be an observant.
American culture: Americans are explicit. They will say everything that they want to communicate explicitly. It may be felt ‘repetitive’ or ‘you being considered naive’ at times, though that is not the intention. Nothing is left for interpretation, no reading between the lines, clear communication. So much so that after cracking jokes, they may say ‘just kidding’ in case anybody didn’t get it! In the Indian context, it is not even a worthy joke, if you have to tell that explicitly!
The misinterpretation of Indian nodding is one of the few cultural differences that came out while writing my book ‘7 Untold Secrets of Living Abroad’; not just by the Americans but by most of the European nationals too. Implied communication is common among the Asians or the Eastern part of world!
When was the last you had a miscommunication due to cultural differences?
Get through the cultural maze of 12 top nationalities around the world: read the Amazon Bestseller: 7 Untold Secrets of Living abroad
The article is part of the ‘Culture maze series’.
#Culturemaze #Immigration #7UntoldSecretsofLivingAbroad
When you immigrate to another country;
your own food gives familiarity to you in the foreign land.
Food becomes a tool for survival,
a tool for your identity.
Food is a sign of resistance,
as well as assimilation.
Ingredients hide stories of who you are and flavours reveal where you come from.
The style is localised over a period.
Britishers loved Fish and Chips. They took it to wherever they went. It is a relished dish in most of the common-wealth countries, more so, in the English speaking countries.
Wherever it is, is a sign of adoption of what Britishers brought with them. Food breaks the cultural walls. Sitting together, eating cuisine from another country is a sign of openness. If it becomes part of the local culture, it is acceptance!
Food is not just a matter of feeding your hunger, it is a matter of existence!
What is your story of food from another country?
“The first time I went to a restaurant was with my office colleagues. It was full of cultural shocks in this new country.
The server in the restaurant asked us if we would have a single check or separate. Everyone ordered for themselves. There was no discussion on the food to order, the combination of dishes, spicy level, previous experiences… I was used to having many stories around ordering food. The menu card would do round-robin, before somebody taking the lead, to realise all his choices were voted down!” I missed those stories. It was formal, jumping straight to the order.
As the bill arrived, I was shocked to see ‘gratuity’ there. Till that day, gratuity for me was the money employer would pay if one stayed for more than five years in the company.
18% gratuity (tip) was part of the total bill. My sharp brain quickly converted the amount to INR. It was more than my total bill at a restaurant back home!
I wasn’t inclined to pay it as I was still an outsider to the culture. I was yet to embrace the way of living here, now I call home!” shared a friend.
Which country are we talking about? Do you have personal experiences of the tipping culture away from home country?
Canada is inviting applications for skilled permanent residents in numbers that hardly any other country is doing currently in the World. A stint there can fulfil many of your dreams. Its cities rank high in the World city ranking index. Canada gives easy access to the US and many nearby regions because of its proximity. It has one of the best lakes in the World- The Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, a bucket list item.
When it comes to migration, the stakes are higher. You need to look into many more aspects than just at the surface. The job market, the primary reason you would want to move, is small; if it not an inter-company transfer for you. Several people have sold their assets in India, migrated and couldn’t find a job for six months to a year! You will end up in one of the top five cities in Canada because of better prospects. The rentals have been continuously increasing because of demand pressure, and you need to be good at calculations.
Local people are generally humble, generous and welcoming. The culture … ok, let me stop here.
Why would you want to immigrate to another country, leaving your comfort zone?
Sundays used to be the most awaited day of the week. Something special would be cooked, other than the routine food. Masala Dosa or Idli Sambar was among those dishes for us. Food has the power to make you happy.
As you move abroad, depending on your food preferences and the country you move to, the amount of happiness would vary. An office colleague ordered food for me at the counter, during our first Friday lunch out.
“What did you order for me?” I asked.
“Mock fish!” he answered.
“I am vegetarian on first seven days of a week”, I replied, looking away from the plate that arrived.
“Only name has a fish. What you see is made out of Soybean”, he started laughing.
It took a while for me to believe that it was not a prank. And few more months to appreciate the concept!
Do share your exciting encounters at the food table, let the world know! 😊
Growing up, I never heard about work-life balance. The bread earners would go to their office or shops in my case; from morning to night. Sundays were off and would start with watching the television show, special lunch and evening out to an exhibition, a Circus or shopping.
Having work-life balance has become increasingly important; is an understatement in today’s world. Even job descriptions highlight work-life balance as a perquisite offered.
Which country in the world offers the best WL balance? Where daddies officially take a day off per fortnight to spend time with their kids? They can spend time colouring with the kids, reading story books or taking the kid and a bunch of his friends to a movie on a weekday! Where you don’t need to take time out for a dinner date; it is part of work life.
The Dutch know it better; Netherlands scores among the highest in WL Balance in the world!