TED Talk: East vs. West — the myths that mystify

When we look at the people from a different culture, we look through the lens of our own values, our own morality. Devdutt Pattanaik has an interesting take on the myths of India and those of the West… and how we misunderstand one another.

We often compare our Indian culture, values and traditions with the West. We always look at a culture through the values and the lenses of our own culture, our own definition of values and morality. There is no surprise, that we are often biased in our observations. This bias can be conscious or subconscious, our views are seldom neutral.
In this interesting TED talk, Devdutt Pattanaik takes an eye-opening look at the myths of India and the West. The speaker explains how these two fundamentally different sets of beliefs about God, death and heaven help us consistently misunderstand one another.

The speaker links the the business aspect to our culture and our myths. How we look at our business and operation is through the eyes of our own culture. The best ways to deal with dynamic and diverse markets is through the culture of our customers.
So, what is the ‘right’ or ‘suitable’ way to approach a situation or a business problem? It depends. It depends on the situation and it depends on the ‘eyes’ of the culture and mythology. Continue reading “TED Talk: East vs. West — the myths that mystify”

The cure for racism!

They say that the racism is all in our brain, the way we think. Many times, we may not even know that we are subconsciously discriminating …..The racism is a product of our culture…The researchers at Oxford University have discovered that a pill can lowers racist attitudes…..

Racism – An ugly word, with uglier social implications,  with the ugliest outcomes in most cases. Racism is a behavior; the discrimination based on racial differences are daily common occurrence. There is no debating that racism is a social issue, a social disease.

It is human nature, we react differently to different situations; we respond in our own ways to those who appear different from us. The racism is a product of our culture; a part of our ignorance about other cultures, about other people from different race.

The way we are raised, the way we are educated and the way our surroundings are – all little things add up to affect our thinking, consciously or subconsciously.

They say that the racism is all in our brain, the way we think. Many times, we may not even know that we are subconsciously discriminating. For example, our education may teach us to be fair and equal to all, but our childhood upbringing may have taught us differently. Just the way things were around us, when we were growing up, leave a lasting impression on our thinking, on our behavior. Continue reading “The cure for racism!”

Happy Lohri

Every year, January 13 marks the Lohri festival – the winter solstice, a popular celebration in north India. As the days get longer and the nights shrink, the festival marks the psychological fade of winter, a welcome sign of approaching spring in the coming weeks…

Kids of all ages gather in small groups, going from house-to-house collecting jaggery candies, peanuts, sweets and even cash…Small bonfires light every corner of the town, creating illusions of warmth in the shivering cold January dusk…. The sound of folk music resonate in every street as kids go door-to-door singing the folk songs of Lohri.

Every year, January 13 marks the Lohri festival – the winter solstice. It is a popular celebration in north India. As the days get longer and the nights shrink, the festival marks the psychological fade of winter, a welcome sign of approaching spring in the coming weeks.

And, yes, this is yet another excuse to celebrate and party, especially for the families blessed with newborns in the last year 12 months. Farmers pray for a prosperous year ahead; kids pray for tons of candy before the night ends. Continue reading “Happy Lohri”

Yes, Life is different here!

Yes, life is different here, very different!!
People follow so many different religions here….Some dress sparingly and reveal everything…different social circles…Greed and fear drive everyday life…

Living Abroad – Different strokes for different folks!

Yes, life is different here, very different!!

Here, people come from all over the places! They have different skin tones, different heights. They walk different, they talk different. Some have local accent; others are outsiders for sure. Some speak in a monotone while others are too dramatic in every expression. Some stand still and deliver their opinion in a quiet but firm voice, while others use their hands and gestures more than their tongue.

Some dress sparingly and reveal everything, very outdoorsy to say it modestly! Others are too covered, as if protecting themselves from a wintery chill, even in the summer months.

People speak so many different languages here. Just walk down the street and you will get an earful of gibberish dialects for sure; many of those you have never heard of!

Yes, life is different here, very different!!

The food choices are quite interesting, or strange. Some like it plain and others, spicy. Some eat only vegetables while others hunt for meat. Some can afford it all, while others live from hand to mouth. Some like it exotic and show off their feasts while others struggle to feed even two times a day. Continue reading “Yes, Life is different here!”

Double Standard

She had big dreams, her ideology was based on truth, honesty and kindness. But that was a long time ago, that was before she saw the real world. In the name of the family, for the sake of the society, she has learned to compromise at every stage of life abroad…

She had big dreams, her ideology was based on truth, honesty and kindness. But that was a long time ago, that was when she was seventeen. She thought she was special; she was born to do great things; she was born to make a difference. But then again, that was was when she was in high school. She barely new the world out there. She never knew that the rules of kindness, love and truth apply differently beyond the walls of her house.

Somewhere along the way, somewhere in the process of growing up, she left her house to encounter the real world. She was no longer shielded by her family and her loved ones. It was part of her society, it was part of the traditions to move out. She got married; her family tied her knot to an educated man from Canada. Not because they knew him, or she loved him; they married her in the hope that life would be better in Canada. That is what everyone thought, and that is what they believed – she will be better off in Canada, far better off.

But then again, people are not what they appear to be. In the real world abroad, things are very different. The real world is far different than the one based on dreams; the real world where ideology is often talked about but seldom practiced. Most of the people talk big but do little, she soon learned.

In no time, she was exposed to the double standards as she left her father’s house. She saw hypocrisy first hand – day in and day out. The lies, the deceptions, the compromises – everything was at play on her new stage of life. Continue reading “Double Standard”

Plight of a woman in the NRI Marriages

A traditional woman from India wants to save her marriage at every cost, even when it is an unhappy marriage. In the NRI marriages, society abroad takes full advantage of a women’s desire to make things work. In the name of the compromises, in the name of the family pride, women overseas are suffering from this hidden but cruel treatment every day.

“Indian men are the most ugly men on this planet. Their hearts so ugly that u can not even imagine. I am Indian married to an Indian, the pain and the suffering he has given me and continues to give me, is crazy. Why?……. Indian men in India may be good, Indian men who come to the west are ugly ugly men…may god give me courage to remove this painful lump( my husband) out out of my life forever.. ” Says Katiyani while commenting on this article.

Many parents in India prefer to marry their beloved son or daughter to NRIs.  Their main hopes and wishes for their kids are to see them will settle abroad and prosper. A common man still looks up to the other countries as the ultimate salvation for their offspring.

Yes, arranged marriage is still the most common way to matrimony in India, especially when it comes to marrying abroad. With very little knowledge about a ‘funny dressed’ visitor from the west, people are willing to wed their son or daughter overnight. They don’t want someone else to steal their opportunity – the opportunity of a golden ticket to go abroad.

Marriage is supposed to be a sacred bond, based on mutual love and respect. However, NRI marriages are fundamentally based on greed. It is the greed that results into lifelong headaches for many couples, and heartaches along with it. Continue reading “Plight of a woman in the NRI Marriages”

NBC’s ‘Outsourced’ – A hilarious culture clash or offensive?

NBC’s ‘Outsourced’ is based on a Call center in Mumbai selling Novelties to American customer. The comedy brings home the culture-clash where India meets America. However, many of us find the sitcom offensive for making fun of Indian traditions and culture ….Read more..

Many call this a strange or bold move form NBC, but it is more of a commonsense if you think about it – controversial shows get the attention from public and media alike. Thursday’s prime-time lineup from NBC includes ‘Outsourced’ – a comic satire on Indian culture through the eyes of American and Western office managers. Nothing original, but different!

The show in itself is hilarious, if you take it with a grain of salt. The Indian way of thinking, the Indian traditions, the office habits of local workers and how we perceive Americans – all on display in half an hour weekly comedy that is lighthearted and fun to watch.

The premise of ‘Outsourced’ is based on an an Indian call center in Mumbai selling American novelties. According to NBC, the Outsourced revolves around “the all-American company Mid America Novelties whose call center has suddenly been outsourced to India and a manager, played by Ben Rappaport, is being transferred to India to run the operation…”

The sitcom touches on a variety of social and cultural Indian issues including arranged marriage, a young woman working in the call center to support her parents, how Indians view the American women, the Indian Accent and the fake American accent…. Continue reading “NBC’s ‘Outsourced’ – A hilarious culture clash or offensive?”

Have a scary and spooky Halloween!

The wizards, the warlocks, the witches, the vampires, the princesses,…. a whole range of characters from the Animal Kingdom .…you name it, you shall find it. The kids have been busy for weeks, planning for the big night. Everyone has figured out their costume…Yes, the Halloween is here.

Happy Halloween!
Have a spooky Halloween!

The wizards, the warlocks, the witches, the vampires, the princesses,…. a whole range of characters from the Animal Kingdom .…you name it, you shall find it. The kids have been busy for weeks, planning for the big night. Everyone has figured out their costume.

The end of October.  Finally, the wait is over!

Yes, the Halloween is here.

The orange hue is the theme of the night. The glowing pumpkins, odd spooky objects in the front yards – more odd, the better. The idea is to create a scary and haunting scene in every neighborhood. There is no limit; nothing is extreme tonight – the skeletons, the fake graveyards, the glowing spider webs, the ghostly creatures…..everything is a fair game. Continue reading “Have a scary and spooky Halloween!”

A glimmer of hope – Indian sports in international arena

It is about time for India to wake up and realize that the country can be a key player in the global competitions. If we can keep the Commonwealth Games’ spirit alive, India could lead to Olympics level victories. For India, this could be a start of many new success stories in the international sports arena.

Future of India in the global sports competitions

Indian is a country with population of 1.2 billion people and growing, second largest in the world. Home or abroad, the Indians are known for their hard work and perseverance. And yet, when it come to the sports, India does not have much to show in the international arena. India has never been a top contender in the global sports competitions.

Yes, cricket is big; the country is crazy about the game. There are about ten competitive cricket playing nations in the world, and India is often often among the top ten! 🙂 Beyond cricket, India does not really have much world presence in the sports and athletic competitions.

In the Olympics games, for example, India has miserably failed to deliver any world class performance. At one time, India used to rein supreme in the field hockey, but not anymore. The most medal that India has ever won in the Olympics are 3, in 2008 Olympics in Beijing. That is quite a dismal performance for a country of the size of India! Continue reading “A glimmer of hope – Indian sports in international arena”

Her social drinking troubles

In this day and age, the double standards are alive and well – in India and abroad. This is a short story, through the eyes of a modern woman, struggling to adjust to the Indian society and the social norms….

Her parents drove for two hours from Seattle to Surrey, B.C. They did not have a choice. They had to be there. For the entire drive, Meena – her mother – looked out of the car window. She was not admiring the scenery or the landscapes; her brain was racing with troubling thoughts and imaginations. She was worried about their daughter, Anita.

“I am not sure how to tell you this, but I have to; people are starting to talk!” Out of the blue, that was a bombshell from Rani, Anita’s mother-in-law, when she called on Wednesday.
“I don’t understand, what happened?” Meena asked; her voice trembling, and barely audible.
“Can you come over this week-end? Then we can talk,” Rani said after a pause.
Her hands shaking, Meena put-down the phone and slumped into the sofa.

“What’s going on?” Meena called Anita within minutes after that call, the suspense was killing her.
“Hi mom, how are you?” Anita was caught off-guard.
Her mom was quiet on the other end of the line.
I don’t know what you talking about, mom,” Anita added.
“Rani just called me.”
“I don’t know what the big deal is about. Everything is okay mom!” Anita said.
“You tell me now, or I am coming there tonight!” Continue reading “Her social drinking troubles”

India through the eyes of my American Classmates

For someone from India, life as a new student in America can be quite interesting. My classmates come from a very diverse background, not to forget in all colors – white, brown, black, yellow, pink, dark pink…well, sometimes it is hard to tell the real color with all the makeup on!

“So how do you like it here, in US?” This is a common icebreaker with new classmates from other countries.
“I love it; it’s fun!” is my general response. After all, I don’t need to complain about my homesickness to everybody.
“I would love to go to India, but am little bit worried about the safety and stuff over there; ….”  Some hesitation about a country far away is quite normal among Americans.
“Stuff like what?” I like to explore what they think about India.
“Well, it is a new place; plus I don’t speak Indian.” Some say this as a joke, while other are clueless to the Indian languages.
And sometimes, the things get slippery after such small talk! That is where the snakes, the elephants and other wild animals jump into the picture. Some questions, asked even with the utmost seriousness, beg for a chuckle, if not a full blown laugh!

I like my American classmates and friends just as much as my desi colleagues, well almost. At least, that’s what I would like to believe and that’s what I try anyways. Many of these firangs are my close friends. We eat together, we study together and we goof-off together. It’s a fun bunch of people I am surrounded by.

I am one of the five Indians in our class. There are students from everywhere – Canada, European countries, Australia, Kenya, Mexico and Korea…to name a few. They all come from a very diverse background, not to forget in all colors – white, brown, black, yellow, pink, dark pink…well, sometimes it is hard to tell the real color with all the makeup on. 🙂 Continue reading “India through the eyes of my American Classmates”

Many Indians abroad dating exclusively whites only!

There seem to be an emerging and perhaps growing trend among the new generation of Indians abroad who prefer to date whites only…instead of dating someone from desi circle.This ‘chat’ on the social network site is a quick glimpse into their psyche…

19:19 Me
Are u okay if I use this ‘chat’ for a blog post…a post on ‘Some Indians abroad dating whites only’ ?

19:19 Neelam
No, not really! Plz!

19:20 Me
my loss 🙁

19:20 Neelam
haha….sorry

19:21 Me
🙁

19:21 Neelam
may be..you can change the name and place…a little

19:21 Me
I should do that.
Why though?

19:22 Neelam
haha I don’t need publicity..or hate mails…lol

19:22 Me
okay cool, thanks

19:23 Neelam
haha np

…………

A friendly warning: Take this post with a grain of salt, especially if you get indigestion from racial mix and deviations from the strict social norms. Continue reading “Many Indians abroad dating exclusively whites only!”

The hidden social classes abroad – the Fabs, the FOBs, the ABCD

The Indian society in the foreign lands has its own social classes, its own divisions. From outside, these divisions are not very visible, not very noticeable. This should come as a no surprise to those who have lived abroad amongst other Indians…the FOBs…the ABCDs..read on…

You think you left the social class system back home, when you left India? Think again! 🙂

Perhaps, classes are part of our social life. May be this is how society works – one group of people trying to put down the other group while struggling to prove its own superiority. And NO, we are not taking about the social divisions between whites, blacks or Hispanics abroad.

The Indian society in the foreign lands has its own social classes, its own divisions. From outside, these divisions are not very visible, not very noticeable. This should come as a no surprise to those who have lived abroad amongst other Indians. You may see these partitions less if you are very isolated from rest of the Indian society overseas.

These classes are not based on your last name, cast or creed. Rather, the division is based on your social acceptance among the Indian diaspora. This somewhat hidden division is less visible to an outsider – those who are not Indians or not a part of Indian community. Continue reading “The hidden social classes abroad – the Fabs, the FOBs, the ABCD”

NRIs – Scattered relations, separated friends!

We uproot ourselves from a social circle built over the years, since childhood. We suddenly leave behind the friendships and relations that were too strong and too special to explain. We leave behind the possibilities of sharing new seasons of every year with those ‘special someones’. We exclude ourselves from the daily get-togethers in the play-grounds, the wanderings with no destination, and the surroundings of our own culture.

“At first, I tried phoning regularly, almost every day. Then it changed from everyday to every week-end. Talking on the phone is not the same, and it becomes very expensive. Over the years, I have basically lost touch with most of my friends, even some of the closest ones,” He speaks in somewhat sad tone, with pain spilling out of his words, “I still call my friends, we email more than phone. We still understand each-other, but it is not the same. I am no longer a part of the friendship circle that I left behind.”

This is true for most of the NRIs. We often talk about going abroad; living overseas and we share our experiences in the foreign countries. We explore the pros and cons of leaving our homeland and settling overseas.At a party or a week-end get-together, or during other social meetings overseas, we often talk about our desi experiences – the good stuff, the bad side and the compromises of living abroad.

However, one of the least discussed and the most unfortunate side-effect of the whole thing – going abroad and settling overseas, – is the emotional and social impact it has on our psychology. Maybe, because we don’t like to talk about something very personal. Perhaps it is uncomfortable and often painful to discuss something that was much cherished and now lost. Continue reading “NRIs – Scattered relations, separated friends!”

Some things never change….in India

Bigger houses, better cars, western food, newer mobiles….there are so much new in India; there have been so many changes over the last 10-15 years. And then, there are many more things that are about the same, same as the old days….

An NRI’s prospective on the not-so-changing aspect of Indian life

Bigger houses, better cars, western food, newer mobiles…there are so much new in India; there have been so many changes over the last two decades. India, along with very few other countries, is economically growing at a pace that rest of the world can only imagine. The villages, the towns, the cities – the positive changes are sprawling everywhere.

And then, there are many more things that are about the same, same as the old days. If you look closer, the stuff that has not changed much is in fact much more profound and much more important than the economic progress made since early 90s.
The key aspects of Indian way of life that have not changed much include: Continue reading “Some things never change….in India”