Avoiding cultural catastrophes

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April. 14 – Why do Indians have so many Gods? Why do they nod their heads when they mean 'no' and shake their heads when they mean 'yes'? Is it impolite to take a bottle of wine to your hosts house for dinner? ~ These and several other questions plague the thousands of expatriates posted in India.

Reading volumes of books on India, does not seem to prepare most foreigners who are posted to this vibrant, dynamic, pluralistic country of paradoxes. Nothing it seems can prepare one for the reality that is India.

Profiting from this latent demand are a host of companies that seek to culturally orient expats to the do's and don'ts of India. Each family is given a presentation on orienting themselves to the Indian way of life so that they are culturally aware and do not make any faux pases during their stay. From reading Indian body language, manner of speaking, hierarchy, negotiating business deals, cherishing family bonds, to learning to train household help, expats need to learn it all.

Given India's prominence in current capital markets and every companies need to be in India, it is estimated that there are 50,0000 expatiates in India, with about 3,000 to be added this year.