Moving is considered one of life’s top stressors. We all know that. Moving to another country, no doubt is much more challenging, but in today’s changing, shrinking world, it is almost inevitable. Why not change our thinking around it? Having moved countries three times, I would say it has also been undoubtedly one the most enriching experiences though it doesn’t always seem like that at times.
IF YOU HAVE JUST MOVED TO INDIA, YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN YOUR FRUSTRATION OR FASCINATION WITH INDIA.
Even those of us who grew up in India, left the country for a prolonged period of time and are now coming “back,” find the sensory overload, chaotic traffic, dealing with help, and communicating effectively quite overwhelming. But hey, welcome to the biggest developing democracy in the world.
There are recurrent themes one often comes across in expat circles, but there don’t seem to be structured training programs or resources to turn to for our repeated frustrations. Why am I dealing with so many brokers? Why don’t people show up when they are supposed to? Can I trust my help or are they taking me for a ride? Why don’t I get a response from my team at work? How do I know if I have offended someone? Why doesn’t anyone stick to promised deadlines? These are just a few.
I would be wary of any training or cultural expert that gives you a simple list of Dos and Don’ts in India. As a famous quote goes, “whatever you can rightly say about India, the opposite is also true.” If there are 50 shades of grey in your world, there are at least a 150 in India. That is the result of many factors like it’s rich history, diversity, economic disparities and not to mention, it’s population of 1.3 billion people. However, it doesn’t mean you cannot prepare yourself to have a successful expatriate experience in India. The first step towards this would involve taking a deeper look at the Indian Cultural Iceberg and understanding the values that drive behavior here. One needs to understand how family is an important source of one’s collective identity and how this, in turn, effects communication styles to hierarchy at work to many other aspects of everyday life.
Culture isn’t everything and a deep dive into all aspects of the culture might not be a solution to every problem you face in India but, this deeper understanding of cultural values might just be the blind spot indicator that helps set better expectations, make us aware of our own values and preferences, and potentially remove barriers to communication.
The people of India are its tremendous resource. If I absolutely were to leave you with one tip that would make life in India a pleasant experience, I would say, reach out to your local friends and colleagues for help. We are known to treat guests as Gods and will be happy to help you navigate your way through here. Step out of your comfort zone in asking for help.
CASH IN ON THE POSITIVES.
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