Thursday, June 16, 2011

When in Punjab...Do as the Punjabi's Do!

My girl Bad Bhabi just inspired me so now I must write and prove I'm not a total slacker this week. She got me thinking and the topic just struck me.

The topic can really apply to anything and, as I'm sure most of you know, it started out as the saying "When in Rome..." But we can each apply this topic individually and even go as far as to say, when in your in-laws home, act as your in-laws do. This especially applies to intercultural relationships and Bad Bhabi just gave me this Aha! moment.

She made me realize that our in-laws, since they are from a different culture entirely, won't be judging us by the western standards we judge ourselves by. They won't know if we miss saying a 'please' or 'thank you' because here they don't say that all the time. Our in-laws won't really have any idea that we didn't dot our i's or cross our t's. They simply don't think about these things like we do.

They are curious about how different we are and what we will do different than them. If we act like them, they may even get excited. So I say do it! Act just like them!

(I mean none of this as an insult - just highlighting the differences.) In my case that means asking repeatedly for things until I get them. If I have to call someone or text I must do that repeatedly as well. I should never say please and thank you because (in the words of my husband) this puts distance between two ppl, and it is understood. I should also ask for random things and make him go out of his way to get me stuff (like ice cream at 11 pm) because that's how love grows.

Instead of asking when I want to do something I should just say let's go or what time are we leaving. (Graciously he's getting the hang of the western thing and if I ask that way he's usually on time or at least really close!) If I want to sit I should promptly tell him to move and give me the best seat.

Now, of course, all these things will be done unto me as well. So, just like they are driving me crazy sometimes, I should likewise drive them crazy. I did test this theory. It works lol. My MIL got all excited and my FIL got all happy. The man even sat at the park during his normal evening walk so that me and the MIL could walk at the women's park lol. Nice. It really works.

So when in Punjab....Do as the Punjabi's do and don't stress over the small stuff. You can have fun and maybe learn a few new tricks.


  1. Yes, the idea is, by western standards, to just be rude and demanding and you'll fit in fine. My behaviour has gotten so "bad" that I even tell people I'm coming and don't turn up! ;-) No one seems to care either!


  2. Lol! This is funny. Next time I am with my in-laws, I will definitely have to try it out!

  3. Lol Sharell. I haven't personally not shown up yet but my hubby has on my behalf. I do tell ppl all the time I will come to their house but without setting a date. I've yet to go to any of their houses though. I don't really want to either lol. It's bad. Smile and nod, smile and nod. Throw in a 'nahi' or 'han ji' and all is well.

  4. I applaud this idea and am so glad it has worked for you! Hopefully, I might be able to take the same advice when I come to live with my inlaws in Bangalore. I'm told, and have so far heard, that they are very loud. The tone in which they speak also sounds like yelling to my ears. So that will be a big challenge for me, a typically very quiet speaker. So far I have told hubby that I will not be yelling and that if anyone finds the need for me to yell, then I will simply no longer speak at all. I'll write everything and make signs and notes lol.

  5. Hehe, I am working on it indeed.

    If midnight snacks and always getting my way equate to love than Vishav loves me more than I ever expected... He told me that he doesn't like having sweets without me nagging him to go and fetch them!!!

    Our boys <3

  6. ms lady, don't worry about the yelling too much. I'm really quiet too and they can't seem to hear me, yet when someone else is quieter they do. I don't get it. I just don't bother talking much either unless it's one on one. They will hear you just fine, don't worry.

    Bhabi, you're right lol. I don't get it either, but they do seem to recognize that as love. I'm thinking I wouldn't be here if my hubby wasn't so over the top sweet and catered to me like that. Lol. it's bad but true.

  7. Just the other day my in-laws told me that I say 'thanks' too much and that I should completely stop. It really does make them uncomfortable, yet I feel uncomfortable if I don't say it. LOL

  8. Lol Saathi. Mine made fun of me by taking on a mockingly sweet voice and saying it back. I loved it, they weren't trying to be mean at all. I still say it. I just had to explain to them if I go back to the states my momma my just kick my butt if I don't say it so I don't wanna lose the habit lol.

    Thanks Lorena!

  9. Loved the post! Funny but true.

  10. Haha! While my mom-in-law's culture isn't very different than mine, I find this principle you discussed above applicable even to other expats.

    I lived in Thailand for 6 years and worked in an Indian institution for 4 years. I found that some things I do that are acceptable in my culture are rude for Thais. While I do find a lot of manners and behaviors of Indians rude, I figured they're normal in their culture. Therefore I learned not to take offense.

    Culture differences!

    offbeat marriage

  11. What a great post!
    You and BB have practically solved the in-law problem by the sounds of it! Genius stuff ladies. I can't believe I didn't think of it!
    xx Rachel

  12. Glee, too true! This concept works everywhere. From one job to the next, one home to the next, one family to the next. Everyone is different in so many ways and if we spend all our time fretting about how they offended us we are only limiting ourselves. We are the ones who suffer when we get upset and get stuck on something that bothers us. The best thing we can do is try to understand it (whether we do or not is irrelevant) and move on. Life keeps going, so we can't take the time to stand still on any issue.

    Lol Rachel, it sounds like it. However, acting completely against your upbringing is harder than it sounds sometimes. I must admit I did adapt quickly to the incessant asking technique though. I make it funny and change my voice each time, etc. I decided to have fun with it the first time to be a pain in the a** and hubby thought it was cute and kept making me do it again so now it's like a game. I didn't see that coming lol.