India is a magically diverse country. It adequately poses a mixture of opposites to anyone visiting, and this juxtaposition seems completely normal. Think about it – the filthy rich versus the very poor, state-of-the-art tech versus rural jugaad. Having being born and brought up here, one takes these characteristically Indian things for granted. So much so that one almost feels alien abroad, far from the chaos and confusion this country has to offer.
So take a look at 11 culture shocks we Indians need to adjust to when we’re travelling or studying abroad.
1. Attitudes to love and romance
Indian attitudes to love and romance are extremely closeted. We keep what we do to ourselves, but we gawk like children when we see someone doing the same thing. PDA is a very alien concept in India. So it comes as quite a shock when we see couples locking lips, left, right and center when we’re abroad. It’s not actually left, right and center, but to the Indian, who only sees PDA in movies, two separate couples making out is considered rampant!
Indians, genetically, are filthy. We’ll eat what we want, and won’t bat an eyelid when it comes to throwing it out when we’re done. So to actually see clean streets, devoid of litter and shit, comes as a massive wake-up call. And the only reason we’re shocked is that we can’t believe there are actually people with a civic sense around.
Indian Standard Time is actually a standard where you give someone an estimated time of arrival, and you stretch it by at least half an hour. In fact, Indian Stretchable Time is far more apt a standard. In any case, we’re so appalling that we don’t even have the decency to tell whoever it is that’s waiting for us, that we’re running late. Nope! We’ll just lie.
So it’s extremely novel when we’re abroad and we have to meet someone at a said time. Who would’ve thought that when someone gives you a time for an appointment, you’re expected to keep it!
4. Road etiquette
Every possible driver or car owner in India needs to take a trip to the West to actually understand what lane driving and not honking entail. Because it is quite obviously beyond us.
5. General politeness
Parts of India are a warm and friendly bunch, but there’s another part that are absolute terrors (the National Capital, anyone?). But there seems to be a larger sense of friendliness abroad. People will actually stop by their tracks and give you directions. Unlike your average Delhi autowallah. I only say this because I once told an auto guy that I wanted to go some place. His simple direction for me was to go right ahead. #DeadSerious
6. Clean water
Clean drinking water in India is a bit of an issue. So we’re completely flummoxed when we go abroad and people are drinking water from bathroom taps.
7. Respect for menial jobs
This is a major one. A city kid would probably think twice before getting a job as a waiter or a driver. But these are perfectly respectable occupations abroad. The focus lies on the fact that someone is actually doing their bit to earn their living. Meanwhile, back at home, we have organized cartels of beggars, harassing Indians and foreigners alike for money.
Given that domestic help and basic services are expensive abroad, and that people actually value these, most people tend to do a lot of their cooking, laundry, gardening, and fixing on their own. Quite the opposite from India where we pay our house-helps peanuts.
If you’re abroad and you’re 18, you’re expected to move out of your parent’s place. In India, you could be 28 and living with your parents, and nobody’s going to give a rat’s ass.
10. Overall responsibility
Let’s face it – we’re corrupt and we’re lazy. If we can get out of doing a particular thing, or paying a particular fee, we’ll go right ahead and do it. But a lot of the times when you’re abroad, you’ll notice people actually adhering to their jobs. You won’t necessarily see a ticket collectors or someone to fill your gas.
11. No working on weekends
Weekends are sacred abroad. Unlike in India where if your boss calls you on a Sunday afternoon and you’re napping you’re still expected to take the call. If you’re working abroad, work switches off on Friday evening and begins again on Monday morning. Saturday and Sunday are yours to play around with.