I recently spent a long evening in deep conversation with two very nice gentlemen from India. They were at a business conference in California, as was I. We met one evening on a group Winery tour while sitting at a small wooden table in the dark evening, while music was playing by these guys:
These guys from India could barely, and I mean that literally, speak any english. So we were very close to each other speaking loudly and slowly back and forth over that small table. There were around two hundred people present so it was not really that quiet. So you get the idea, it was loud, we had wine and we had language barrier/translation obstacles. So we conversed for a long time and what I learned or took away is still quite interesting. Thus this little post about that conversation.
An observation I have about their culture.
First previous to this conversation I have had certain thoughts about those kind of guys from India. Many of the ones I have met in my term here on earth are like this, they move to the USA, buy houses and live with all of their relatives together in one place, they own a business or two and sometimes another business and home back home. They work a lot and make money and are busy. They don’t seem to be outside in their yards very much like us American’s do. Please stay with me, this is just my observations. I have been next door neighbors to multiple families like this for years. We were great neighbors and our kids played together. We talked on occasion, so my observations are not without merit. Anyway I have had this judgement in my mind that they should spend more time with their kids. Why? Because that’s the way I think it should be. Afterall you guys work so much.
Carry that into this conversation with these two gentlemen.
One of the guys was more engaged, the other had his cell phone with him and he continued to use it during our conversation. I like to leave my cell phone in the car whenever I go to a meeting, social or business. I asked lots of questions, slowly and often had to repeat.
“Do you live in a house?” Answer: No it’s more of an apartment, it’s on the top floor of the hotel that we own.
“What time do you go to work each day” Answer: I usually work 8 – 5pm.
“Do you go out to eat for lunch?” Answer: No. I bring a boxed lunch with me.
“Do you work Saturdays?” Answer: Sometimes.
“How about Sundays?” Answer: No. We go to “church” (aka Hindu Temple) and spend time as family together.
He sounded really normal. We talked about how he and his brothers all help each other in business. They loan each other money $$$$ on a moments notice because that is what brothers do. Their wives cook together. Etc. You probably can see the picture.
So here is my observation:
American Isolationism – as he termed it.
In his culture, yes they do work a lot and share homes and even have their kids often watched over by whatever family member is present. But they are very close to each other and when a brother needs something they are there to help them. They do business together and more.
In my American culture, we work a lot too. We live alone and often far away from family. We watch our own kids mostly. Because we want to raise them right. However when we need help our brothers are not near nor are we that close to help each other out. We were raised this way to go off on our own. Our culture and way of growing up often means leaving our family.
So we see one culture staying close.
And we see another culture not so close, buy yet judges the other culture by the amount of time they spend with their children.
So what is the purpose of spending lots of time with children if we are raising them to leave us in the end?
One way works alot and shares in the ups and downs with family. They don’t seem to have as much personal time together but when they are not working it’s family. All family.
One way works too, maybe not as much, and they are happy to be on their own and self-sufficient. They have lots of personal time but no time to take care of their aging parents.
Is this a downside of our Western Culture? I feel like it is. Think about it for a minute or two and see what you feel about this.