What is the reason behind how people from Asia behave and look at life? Our blogger Kaavya Raveendran (born and raised in India) made a first attempt to explain that in her last blog. Time for part two.
© Sven Menschel
As promised, here’s a follow-up to my previous blog, ‘The Asian Effect’. I present to you *drumrolls* part 2: The Indian E\ffect. This blog too comes with a big fat disclaimer. Disclaimer: the word “Indian” covers a very large set of people with different cultures, languages and habitat, so it’s okay to find exceptions.
1. Athithi Devo Bhava . That is Sanskrit for ‘A guest is equivalent to God’. A very common saying in India that people follow religiously, making Indians great hosts. We don’t just showcase our best hospitality skills but also go out of the way for a guest’s comfort and to make them feel like family. Most importantly, we never let the guests help out with chores or otherwise, unlike in the Dutch culture. We feed love, so if you happen to spend a few weeks as an Indian’s guest, you’ll gain weight for sure.
2. You are celebrated. Whether it is your birthday, graduation or a promotion, your friends and family come together to celebrate our achievement. They put in all the effort to make you feel special. Imagine how your maid of honour/best man throws a great bachelorette/bachelor party; likewise, your best friend is always equipped with personal and creative ideas to surprise you. It is almost considered sad to bring your own cake for your birthday. It sure was funny when I had to bring my own birthday cake to office last year.
3. Hierarchical distance. We have extremely formal relationships with our teachers, and “the only friendly teacher” becomes everyone’s favourite. It takes courage to point out a mistake made by the teacher and, even more, to be frank with them. Unlike at WUR, teachers don’t give us a personal explanation of how the grades have been awarded, so it is an accept-it-as-it-is kind of scenario. Growing up in this system certainly affects the kind of person you become. That’s why I wish our educational system back home was a little more casual and transparent too.
4. Mother Teresa. We are essentially selfless helpers, and we seldom say ‘no’ to anything. Since we are very in touch with our emotions, we have this unique capability to empathise quickly and do whatever we can to improve the situation. This, of course, is a fading convention, since people nowadays are devious and rob you of your compassion. So, we choose our audience carefully. But if you have our trust, we’ll have your back. Indians make some of the most loyal friends. If you have such a friend, you are lucky!
5. No excuse is good enough. The work-life balance is way out of balance. I admire how Dutch people strictly maintain their work hours and take days off without hesitation. In India, a strict 9 to 5 working condition is a privilege. Working overtime aside, one has to work hard to even avail the holidays assigned as per the contract. I think the whole idea of taking days off is somehow linked with laziness or unwilling to work. It’s not the best attitude, of course, but I would want to see this trait change.
From none - to few - to all the above typical qualities make an Indian. Have you seen it yet?