Culture Shock?…not so much. My first few days in India.


To prepare for my trip to Hyderabad, India, I asked people who have travelled to that part of the world about what to expect and the responses were pretty consistent. I was repeatedly told that it would be a culture shock to the life i’m used to living in the United States.  There were some immediate differences but I wasn’t terribly surprised by my surroundings despite the fact that they were extremely impoverished and underdeveloped.  The United States isn’t this fairytale Utopia, there is poverty in the United States. I think that in some parts of the world the United States is idealized as this fairytale place where poverty is nonexistent and money grows on trees but there are thousands of people lined along the streets forced to beg and rely on donations from strangers to eat.

The one thing that I adored about being in India was being able to experience firsthand their extremely rich culture. Some of the people were very nice and hospitable and didn’t mind showing more of their everyday life or explaining the meaning (if they spoke english) of certain cultural customs. Some of their mannerisms were incredibly misleading, like the “nodding”. In the U.S. we typically shake our head left to right to say “No” or up and down to say “Yes. In some parts of Hyderabad, India they would nod their heads loosely left to right, very similar to a bobble head to say yes but shake their hands to say no. So if someone begs from you and you shake your head and think you’re saying no…guess what you’re really saying yes. It took nearly a week to get used to that custom, and by that time it was almost time to leave.

It was intriguing to watch how the mothers would use their children i’m guessing for a sympathy factor to solicit money. They would watch for foreigners and point them out for the kids.  I’m very big on donating so whether it was Rupees or in my case  Pringles, chocolate bars, bottles of Coca-Cola, money, or whatever  I gave whatever I had on me at the time.  I read somewhere that you shouldn’t always give them money because gangsters would use the children to collect money then put that money towards criminal activities, so i gave them food and money. Although I don’t support criminal activities, I’ll take my chances. No child should be left hungry. No child.

I’m especially thankful that i received the opportunity to travel across the world and make such everlasting memories.

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