India: Little Differences
Second collected thoughts on India.
More Communitarian, Less Individualistic, Through Food and Beverage#
- There is much less emphasis on individual choice. If you order tea (chay in Hindi) it will come with milk in it. If you order coffee, it will come with milk in it. They will not ask you how you want your coffee.
- Similarly, when I was in a cab ride between cities, I was not asked what food I wanted at the rest stop. The driver’s brother (who I suppose had tagged along for company) simply bought some snack and insisted I eat some.
- Everyone is very considerate that you might be vegetarian. If pork is involved in food, everyone is very considerate that you might not eat pork. No other preferences or restrictions are particularly accommodated, however: if I ask what meat something is, I might just be told that it’s not pork.
- The exception to that is everyone also falls over themselves telling me which foods are not spicy, until I eat a spicy food and then they believe me. American food is going to taste very bland after this.
- Beef is straight-up illegal.
- Everyone at the lunch table gets up at the same time at work. The conversation about when to finish lunch does not last longer than one conversational turn, and often is expressed purely in body language. I once got up to get more food, and everyone else at the table immediately also got up — I guess I’d made the signal.
- On a related note, I’ve never seen anyone else go up for seconds, but I have seen people somehow squeeze twice as much food on their plates as I do without having it run together.
- When you go out to eat, everyone always agrees on what to order and then shares with the table. Decisions over what to order can be complicated.
This might be Tower-specific:
- Much less discontent. Much less drama. Tower pays above market in India, because it’s still cheaper than NYC, but I don’t think that’s everything. I think it’s more that here, people:
- Are further removed from the political power struggles at the top of the company.
- Have a better, let’s get the work done type of attitude.
- Much quieter, more introverted office. This bothered me, until I was told it bothered me that my office feels like an office. Upshot is, I’m more productive here.
- Different type of nerdiness to the employees.
- When you order an Uber, 9 times out of 10 the driver will call you before showing up. Usually the conversation is not helpful, as I don’t speak enough Hindi to be useful, nor do I know how to describe directions in India well. Somehow, we find each other anyway, after much trepidation.
- I was in an Uber, when all the cars started coming at us full speed, only to drive around us at the last minute. I noticed we were going the wrong way down one side of a divided road. I told the driver, “I think we should be on the other side of that partition!” He said the other side of the partition was closed. In the US, if one direction is closed, we find some other way of getting somewhere, but in India, I guess you drive the wrong way at the very left.
- Cars do not stop for you crossing the street. Hanging out in the middle of the street waiting for a gap in a later lane is totally normal. I thought NYC was a dangerous walking area sometimes!
- Honking is an important means of inter-driver communication. Without it I think people would continuously crash.
- In general, I am still amazed I haven’t seen a crash.
- A 20 minute Uber trip costs less than a subway swipe in NYC.
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