ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design

52. A challenge called India

Portrait of a Indian man with moustache and on the right the text: Being Bold in India

Sometime in India patience and kindness don’t help you to be respected. Indian people are kind and charmed by strong personality. Being slightly bossy and determined may help you to get what you want.


Are you sure that you are entitled to get something but nothing is coming? Don’t hesitate and keep on asking. Maybe your request has been forgotten or your silence has been interpreted as lack of interest or someone is taking it easy, extremely easy...Whatever it is, don’t stop to insist. Else you can wait and wait and wait, and even you may develop resentment and at the end you will go back home with a bad idea of India and its people. Reasonably impudent people enjoy a better experience in India.


Sometime India is very difficult, almost cruel and pushes foreigners far outside of their comfort zone. The negative aspects cannot be denied, but the positive ones are always round the corner. That’s why India is so charming and irresistible. In order to cope better with the sharp-corners of India, I learnt that it is better to accept the challenge against my natural shyness and softness.
Once you have figured out how the Indians behave, you just have to imitate. So you can play your thorny part with more ease–you don't need this post if you are not a indulgent, shy soul.

 

For example, to get a decent price you have to engage in a lively bargaining battle, especially in north India. No fair fare can be obtained without bargaining. It’s a game, your first bid should be half the sum requested by the vendor. He is happy if you pay more than what he expects –surely much less than what he asks- but he will not be satisfied by the flat transaction. Bargaining in India is the salt of commerce.
Gap between people of different class and social position is very rooted. To me Indians sound often rude by the way they address waiters, drivers or subordinates. During my first stay as a paying guest by an Indian family I was upset by the despotic attitude (and language) of the mother towards Sanjay, the domestic helper. I was completely wrong: the relationship between the house owners and Sanjay is intimate, based on mutual respect and care. Sanjay was an under-paid, illiterate boy when the family met him. They offered him a safe house and a job. Years later they helped him to get a wife and enlarged their home to accommodate the new family. Sanjay was already part of that family and the despotism was only verbal.


At times I had some problems with drivers while travelling, because they tried their best to avoid doing what I was asking –they played the compassion card or pretended not to listen or devised a lot of creative excuses. I suppose they felt free to do so because I did not insist enough and I was not peremptory.
Now it's better. Yet I can’t use a harsh tone, i can't be bossy. But there are different ways to be authoritative. I strongly believe the best way is to build a relation based on trust and respect, if the time is enough. Other times leaving tip will work.

 

Respect is everywhere a conquest, something you have somehow to prove to deserve. Each culture pays respect for different reasons. India loves the charismatic leader who is also a wise and loving paternal figure. Someone who can confidently guide you, make you feel safe and cared. Not for nothing ancient India created the ideal of the cakravartin, the absolute king; developed a ruthless political tradition (Kautilya’s Arthashastra) and a strong hierarchy based on caste and class.
Our cultural lens warps the image of India we see. Compared to Europe, India is more ruthless, less hypocritical in some cases and often less delicate. Even if India has a big heart and its people seems to be able to read your thought, it's good to be bold sometime and carry few grams of nerve in your suitcase.

 

Credits

The face off! by Rajasri Mitra

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

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