It’s nice to go back to a country that you enjoyed last time and be surprised of the same things catching your attention again. Here is a superficial list of consistent Indian traits that I see every time I visit the country.
Wiggles or head nods. Everyone does them. They are viral, toxic. I find myself wiggling my head before I even understand what they do it for. I try to observe closely. They wiggle when they say yes (of course!), when they say no (that’s impossible!), or just to make the conversation more interactive, I still don’t know, but I keep on wiggling. Can’t stop.
Curiosity. Have you ever asked a stranger about personal questions, how much he paid for things, details about his personal life? I dislike writing a lot of details like date of birth and profession in useless forms. In the departure form from India I wrote ‘artist’ in the profession field, and the immigration officer asked me which type. – Funambulist, was my reply. He seemed to be satisfied with the answer and left the form in a big stack of papers.
Bureaucracy. I see long procedures without questioning why they are followed, or if there is a simpler way to do them. There is also an obsession with security, they check the back and bottom of your car when you enter a hotel, they check every part of your body when you enter a shopping mall, and even if the exit of the shopping mall is in front of the entrance of another, they do another entire check again. Just in case. Or to have more people employed, or because it has always been like that.
I even had to find my name in a printed list of passengers before being allowed to enter Delhi airport. A few checks, some stamps in my flight ticket, some stamps in my luggage tag, a full hand check from head to toe, even if I didn’t beep in the scanner… (but I sneacked in a bottle a mineral water 🙂
Over confidence. Confidence is good, but over confidence can lead to bad results. A few people I met, they were totally over confident in their broken english. They could speak so fast that you couldn’t tell if they were speaking English or Hindi.
This time my visit was for business, and I met with many new people in meetings. The trick to remember their names? Write the person they remind me of at the back of their business card. Another typical thing in India, people look like western people, but with an Indian flavour. Manish Khan looks exactly like Roger Federer, Amitabh Dutta is Apu from the Simpsons and Rahul Tiwari is a clone of my cousin, Indian version.