Saturday, May 21, 2011

Consideration - A Big Difference Between American and Indian Culture

Maybe it's just my southern American, traditional upbringing and not every American's but I've noticed, as a whole, Americans are much more considerate of others than Indians are. This is one of the things I'm working towards not losing my mind over as I adjust to life in India.

In America we don't go completely out of our way to be overly considerate to everyone all the time. We have our moments and such. However, as a whole we are fairly considerate of others just by our upbringing, training, and the laws that are set in place. One major example would be driving. Never would we honk our horn then cut into another driver as if he should get out our way. (I'm in no way saying Americans are great drivers cause I've seen my share of idiots there too.) Indians just expect to go wherever they want and do whatever they want and someone will make accommodations to get out of their way or they will just have to stop and no one seems to be bothered by that here. Nothing seems to be a big deal in India.

Now, as far as driving is concerned, as long as they don't hit me I don't really care here because I've gotten used to that. Thank small step for me! I just can't seem to get used to the lack of inconsideration that Indians pay to each other. Overall, they really aren't raised to care about anything but what they want at the moment. They don't seem to respect anyone elses personal needs or space.

Case and point one: Today I'm not feeling so well and so I'm sitting in my MIL's room alone in the dark working. It's cool, comfortable and quiet. My MIL comes in to get whatever she needs and such but she doesn't bother me hardly ever unless she needs something. Then her daily nap time comes around and she comes in, makes her space to lie on the floor (her choice - the bed was completely free) and gets comfy. She just happens to be lying in front of the refrigerator.

About 20 minutes later, once she's had a good chance to get dozed off I started craving the coke I had waiting in the fridge. She was sleeping though so I don't bother her and I keep working. A few minutes later my niece walks in the door, cuts between my MIL and the fridge and opens the door to get something out even though I had asked her not to disturb my MIL. (And FYI, her family has their own fridge.) The power is out so nothing is that cold anyway. She then left the room again after obviously waking MIL up. That bugged me because it was so disrespectful. There was nothing she needed that bad and she's old enough to know what respect and courtesy are.

Well, not 2 minutes later the same niece walks back in the door and starts talking to my MIL! Still disrespectful but wth...she had already woke her up. Then the niece climbs on the bed and lays down staring at me. I hate that. I really do. She likes to try to read my text messages if my phone is lying near me face up and looks over my shoulder. I got her good this time, the computer screen is facing me and not the mirror or anywhere she can see it.

Now I was taught to respect elders and for God's sake you don't go around waking ppl up. (I won't even get started on don't open the fridge while the power is out lol.) I swear they don't teach this girl any manners at all. I know that girls are rare in this family and they wish there were more girl children but I think they took spoiling too far with her. I don't think they realize how many problems this will cause for her later in life. They refuse to allow this girl to learn how to cook, clean or anything else a child her age should be learning. They buy her any and everything she could ever want. The sad thing is they have an older son who doesn't get nearly the same coddling...strangely he's a lot more considerate than others in the household.

But she's not the only one. I see too many examples of this inconsiderateness all over the place. I know it's part of the Indian chaos but I was brought up with more manners and respect than that and it gets under my skin. It doesn't help matters that my MIL and my Chachi are really sweet and mostly considerate of others (at least me anyway) but it seems like they are the only ones. Everyone else just seems to only be concerned with themselves. The worst part, here all this is only considered a little thing...and maybe it is and I'm the one blowing it out of proportion.

I don't know. I have great respect for my MIL. It just irks me to see everyone bug her the way they do. I don't care if they supposedly have rights because that's their mom or big mama as the kids call her. It's still wrong in my book. They make her move from chairs so they can sit where they want, they wake her up in the middle of the night (no wonder she naps daily) and all that jazz. I think, judging by the look on her face sometimes, that she is bothered by the lack of respect too but she never says a word. I feel bad for her. I really do. I'm not sure there is anything more I can do about it but lead by example but I wish there was. I think I need to find a firm woman for my BIL who can whip these kids into shape lol. My attempts will no doubt be lost in translation as many other things are.


  1. I am sleepy now, but I have to say that I have been having the exact same thoughts...
    I have been planning a post based on recent experiences on the lack of empathy & consideration in Indian culture - case & point IST, annoying in laws and much more!!!

  2. I can't wait to read it! I completely forgot to mention how they will continually dial the same person over and over just because they didn't answer the first time. I have gotten use to this but I still don't understand it lol.

  3. Hahahaha sounds like some people that I know where I live! Don't get me wrong I live in small town USA for 9yrs now and the lack of respect that I see here as well is something too. I spent over 12-15yrs living in the south I guess that spoiled me or something but there are some people here I just want smack or something to get them to have some respect as well. I can relate to the whole Indian thing! I'm sure lots get lost in translation.

  4. Yeah, we have things so much different in the south. I took all that for granted till I saw how ppl can be in other places. Nothing wrong with a good smack...we do that in the south too lol! ;)