I travelled to Chandigarh (chun-de-gar), India, two years ago and have just returned from my second visit where I noticed a few subtle cultural changes that has me wondering if we will just meld into one culture one day.
We have an outsource team in Chandigarh, a relationship that we have held for many years and is beneficial to both countries. GS was involved in the setup of outsourcing with KFT about 12 years ago.
My first visit to the city in 2017 is when I saw how much of a unique person I was. Everywhere I went I was stared at, called ma’am, had all the doors opened for me, had my shopping carried, never went unaccompanied anywhere and was very conscious of the clothes I wore. In the office, the team we work with were very reserved, especially when in the presence of anyone senior to them.
But this latest visit I felt a lot less on show (not so special anymore), our hotel was right beside a four level mall which I visited frequently by myself. And although I was still looked at and sometimes asked for a photo to be taken with strangers, the girls were friendly and spoke English fluently, they were also not wearing formal dress and the clothes being sold in the shops were brand names that I knew and bought here in NZ.
The change inside KFT (our Indian outsource team) was just as big. The team were chatty, questioning, challenging on accounting procedures and also willing to add value by thinking about efficiencies and ways to work better. I did a presentation on our cultural differences and helped our team and others to understand that what they see in the movies and on the internet wasn’t always the reality.
KFT had physically moved buildings and had a floor dedicated to the team cafe, badminton, table tennis and carmmon board. I also noted that this wasn’t the basement but one of the top floors and whether intentional or not, it does help show the team of their value. As the industrial area where KFT have now built their office will change with a huge amount of construction taking place, the outside environment will change as well. Presently as you drive to the office, you pass farmers moving cattle and the roads are empty. As this site grows, the cattle will move further out, the traffic will move in. Like the differences of the past two years, the next two will mean more changes for Chandigarh and India. Which take me back to the question above – what will happen to all the culture differences we have? Will we become one? And if so, will the uniqueness of our countries change?
I hope not as I love the differences, the energy and the colour, the smells and the climate of different places, people, and countries.