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Cultural Diferences at Work..


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Hi All,

I recently started working at a Fassion Company run by all people from India. My job is awesome. I am laying out a catalog that will go all over the world! I also love dressing up for work everyday. I love that I don't have to be there until 9:00 and I can sleep in. (My other job starts much much earlier in the morning. This job is only a temperary job, but I have heard bits and peaces of conversations and things have been said to me that make me think it might end up being permanent. I can wear my Goth outfits to work. We burn heavenly smelling incense in the office. There are beautiful tapestries hanging everywear. This is a fantastic place for me. And everyone is so nice there. Anyone who has read any of my posts about my other job knows how bad I need this.

 

So, to my question... The office is about half American, half Indian. I just was wondering if anyone knew any Cultural things that I could benefit from. Like is there anything that really offends people from Indai that us Americans might do not even thinking about it? I already know that cows are sacred to them, so to ask one of them to go out for a Burger at lunch time wouldn't be wise. Does anyone have any other tips.

 

On kind of a side note a good friend of mine gave me a Ganesh (sp) statue about a month ago. Ganesh is the Hindu Elephant God. She said having this statue would help me find a job. It's just so ironic that I got a job working at a place that is mostly Hindu shortly after that. There are Ganesh statues all over the office.

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Hmmmm my friend went to India a while back and she said that they cover up. Meaning they do not show any skin. I know that an Indian woman said to me that she would not keep any girl that showed any skin. Thats pretty much what I can think of right now, maybe more will come to me later. You could always ask the Indian people at your work, I would suggest a female co worker. They won't get offended if you ask, I have found that they are always happy to explain things to people. Hope this helps.

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I'm Indian, is there anyting in particular you want to know?

 

It's hard to generalize. There are many Indian people I have cultural clashes with, believe it or not. I am vegetarian so I don't eat ANY kind of meat, but I wouldn't at all be offended if someone asked me to lunch at BK. I'd get myself a nice tasty soy burger. (I wonder if there's beef juice in that? I hope not!).

 

OK, to be perfectly honest with you, there's one thing that really offends me and that's when people make assumptions about me based on my looks. I can deal with blunt questions as long as they are sincere. You sound like the last person who would do it so don't take it personally. Another thing that *really* really* pisses me off is when people assume I don't know English or that I'm stupid just because they can't understand my accent.

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(sorry to just jump in, I just signed up here. )

 

A little Ganesh is always good to have around.

 

Also, now that Diwali (huge Hindu festival in India) is coming up, I'm sure there will be parties and get-togethers and such. Maybe you will be invited to one, and you can experience a bit of the culture that way. Ask questions. People, from my experience, generally enjoy talking about their culture to people that are genuinely interested.

 

Maybe you could also learn some Hindi or any other language your co-workers speak. One of my American friends is learning a little Hindi and said one word in Hindi that was overheard by someone nearby, who immediately said (and completely in earnest), "You speak very well!"

 

Oh yeah and don't automatically think that everyone is fresh off the plane.

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I felt very uncomfortable about having to "set them straight" in a way. I felt weird that I was put in a position to "correct" them??

 

Agreed. I know lots of Indian women who stopped wearing the 'red dot' on their foreheads because of disparaging or downright insulting remarks from people on the street asking whether it was a big pimple or something. (Usually teenaged brats in hick towns).

 

But the real deal is way more subtle. For example at the checkout counter in a grocery store, cashiers rarely go through the "hi how are you" drill with me but they will with almost everyone else. If I say something they don't understand, the response is often a brusque "what?" with a scowl rather than the "pardon" I heard them using with the previous customer. I know it sounds like I'm nitpicking...

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