29 Sep Indian People-friendly and acceptable of Foreigners
The curiousness, kindness and amiability are the traits that define Indian people. When you are in India, expecting help excelling your expectations is common. Indians are warmhearted but the concept of privacy and giving someone a personal space is alien for them to an extent. This is the reason why some of the Expats visiting India are in all praise for this heartwarming culture while some find it bizarre and annoying.
The Brighter Side
- Most of the Indians are friendly and acceptable of Foreigners
- The Indian culture is welcoming in nature and believes in Hospitality – ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’
- It is not uncommon for expatriates to be invited for family functions and religious events where at their home location such an event would be private in nature
- The proximity to foreigners sometimes opens the space to ask personal questions like Salary
- Asking for employment favours for any relative
- Indians can be more than willing to reciprocate similarly and will consider their honour to do so
- Indian communication styles may also be confusing with large use of non-verbal communication
- Head, body and hand movements are an important component of communication and these movements themselves are indicators of what is being said
- The constant use of non-verbal adds to the indirect communication patterns which lead to more confusion for foreigners with many not being able to comprehend
- This can also result in incorrect signals both sides and many comedy of errors have been experienced when simple comprehension of yes and no fails
Some important tips while dealing with Indian people
Presence of foreigners or expatriates in their circle of friends is a bit high for many Indians. This can have a positive as well as a negative impact on the relation between the Foreigners and the Indians. Here are some tips in managing such relationships.
- Indians get friendly quickly. While reciprocating the friendly gesture, it is advised to maintain a certain distance. Proximity sometimes begets contempt. Proximity with a foreigner makes most Indians think they have a hall pass to anything. Expatriate women must be the most careful in this regard as this could be construed as a signal for an open sexual relationship as well. Expatriate women are suggested to dress soberly and avoid wearing short dresses and skimpy clothing.
- Indians seldom say no. This can result in a lot of confusion on occasions where expectations may not be met with the relevant actions. For instance, with colleagues, it is always recommended to check in writing what a foreigner may have assumed in oral.
- Foreigners may choose to not respond to questions of a personal nature. However, responding to such questions and similarly asking the same can open up a lot of doors for the expatriates. Such questions are usually harmless in nature and can bridge the cultural gap if the foreigner accepts and responds.
- While travelling through India, Foreigners can be expected to be stared at – This can happen in Siberia and even in China as well, as my daughter experienced where many Siberians had not seen an Indian woman and she got clicked in many photographs with the locals. Expect similar behavior and use your discretion. Again dress carefully and soberly.
- Please don’t drive. Even if you feel like having an adventure, don’t succumb to this instinct. Once it was said that if one can drive in India, then one can drive anywhere in the world. I tend to disagree and believe that if one drives in India, this person cannot drive anywhere else in the Western world – except probably Italy.
- Careful of spice – Most Indian cuisine is extremely spicy. Even spicy for most Indians. Keep a glass of water close by when experimenting with Indian food.
- Noise pollution in India is from another world. This can give constant headaches and it is recommended to have noise cancellation headphones handy while travelling through India.
With the recent developments and expansion in the tourism sector and the inception of economic liberalization in India, a significant number of expatriates visits India for short and long term depending upon the purposes. India is not just limited to globally circulated pictures of its beautiful landscapes, colorful festivals, intriguing style and the varying shades of brown people. Every state has a unique story to tell and a surprising experience to offer. The cultural shock of expats visiting India may vary from one state to another and so maybe the challenges. With a population over 1.2 Billion, you can always expect the proximity and personal touch of humanity but your privacy and personal space may be a distant dream if you don’t stay attentive and overlook the elementary tips that have been shared in this blog. All it needs is patience to adjust to the cultural challenges and aspects in India. It won’t take much time but it is suggested to get a fair idea about the region you are planning to visit and the cultural, social, environmental and political aspects related to the place.