Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How Do You View Cultural Differences?

There are a lot of similarities between western cultures and Indian culture but there are even more differences. Some are easy to adjust to while some are not. 

I find myself going through a range of emotions while learning about Indian culture. There’s:
  • Excitement when learning about Bollywood, fancy clothes, modesty and family values.
  • Disgust when learning about female feoticide, bride-burning and certain non-hygienic practices.
  • Intrigue when learning about the various tribes and cultures of people that you know exist but no one ever talks about.
  • Fascination with language, traditions and relationships
Hubby gets really excited learning about most facets of US culture. Sometimes he gets so wired up we spend hours talking about one small subject and he has me look up videos and movies for him like he can’t learn enough about it. He also gets upset when he sees some of the things I deal with here and doesn’t understand them. I feel like his emotions are like mine in that he goes through many different emotions. 

When something offensive comes up in US culture and we are discussing it, we talk about it and I give him the details. It may not be easy to discuss some of the crazy things that go on in the US but I don’t feel personally embarrassed or offended. One shining example would be the redneck games. Yes, they exist but I’m not personally involved so I don’t get upset when someone talks about it. Animal sacrifice, I abhor it but I don’t get defensive when the topic comes up. (If you don’t believe it happens in the US, leave me a comment and I’ll get you the links for where a man in Florida won the rights in court to sacrifice animals a few years back.) We have some pretty crazy things going on in the US just like every other country does. 

When something offensive about India comes up, he gets upset and avoids discussion if at all possible. I see this often. Many Indians are reluctant to admit or discuss the things about their country they do not like. IMO this holds back the advancement and change that others in the country want. It doesn’t matter what it is or how small the topic is it seems to offend many people. I’ve said good things about the country and gotten the same type of defensive attitude. 

This can only be explained as a cultural difference itself. You can’t say it’s because of corruption, etc because we have just as much of that going on in the US. It’s not shame because every nation has an ample amount of shame in its past. We just tend to face our challenges head on and head strong in the US. Some of India’s younger generation does the same. I was fortunate to meet a few of them and I’m fortunate to have a few following this blog. 

Our differences are just that – differences. They are not wrong, they are not bad, they are not all good. They just are.
How does learning about your significant other’s culture affect you?


  1. My guess is its a judeomuslim sacrifice. Since i already liked bollywood and other cultural things before we met, that really didnt impact the relationship. We hold a similiar world view and human rights view,so we agree about those "controverse" topics. In fact, it was never really that much of a problem talking about it. The real clash is with practical day to day real things such as wearing full sleeved instead of a tshirt with bared arms and other things that are supposed to done this way and no,how can it be possible to do them another way? At the moment its at the point where i really dont care anymore and dont want to "learn about culture" or cultural ways of doing stuff. Im. Just not. Interested. But thats a long story.

  2. My guess its a judeomuslim sacrifice. Or actually a wicca or christian one? Id be suprised. I already knew bollywood and some cultural traditions before we met so its not really had an impact on the relationship. We have similiar world views and "human rights" views,"controversial" issues was never a problem and we mostly agree. The clashes come with daytoday practical real life stuff such as wearing fullsleeved as opposed to mere tshirt and things can only be done acertain way and another way unthinkable. I am at the point were I dont care about "culture" anymore. I.just.dont.care.anymore. but thats a long story.

  3. This is an interesting post. I am an Indian woman living in the US with an American bf. i have the opposite issue with him. When he we talk about differences between India and the US, he (and most Americans i know) get extremely defensive and they don't even want to admit that the issue exists. They just keep repeating the other good things about America (which I don't deny), as if that negates the bad parts about this country and culture. I agree with you in that people should be ready to discuss about things that they don't like about America (or India)

  4. I think I am at a point where I don't really care about cultural differences anmore, I guess I have been living in India too long. I think the only real cultural difference DH and I still have is how we view food and meal time and we solved that problem the diplomatic way.
    One of our stronger common interest is the respect for the other's freedom and personnal space, so we probably don't even really notice cultural differences in each other or argue them for that matter.
    Dh lived for a a year in Switzerland, most of it without me, I am living in India, we have a fair understanding of where the other comes from.

  5. I'm starting not to care lol. I know how you feel. There can just be too much sometimes and we can't spend all of our time worrying about these little things.

  6. Fascinating. Maybe it's just the circles I've traveled in that aren't so dismissive of negative aspects of US culture. I've met some pretty patriotic people but they still were all quick to discuss what is wrong. Maybe I looked at this all wrong. Maybe it's only offensive if someone from another culture notices and points it out. All the people I was thinking of when writing this post were American talking about their own culture or Indian talking about their own culture.

    Discussing these things is the best way to a resolution. Seeing the issues through someone elses perspective could be very useful in finding a way to make positive changes. Thanks for your comment!

  7. That's great Cyn! Hubby and I have a lot of the same views and ideas but our marriage is still quite new and we are working on settling some minor issues still. It's mostly the families around us that we have to learn to adjust to.