Thursday, 19 November 2015

“God Bless America” : Part I

I am privileged to have people around me who are highly appreciative of what I do. Such appreciative groups have their expectations as well. At least I believe so. I believe they do expect me to write down what did I learn from our recent tour of United States of America. Even those who may not expect, I feel will certainly appreciate if I write down learning from the visit.

It is imperative, I evaluate the benefits for the cost, not just to me but to my hosts as well, incurred.

It was planned and much tom-tommed-about tour, as is my way of doing things. Many would inform, about such travels, only those who need to know, at the last minute. Some may not even inform. I believe I must announce my plans well in advance and let all those who matter know what I am conspiring to do. This strategy has multiple benefits. We get all the advice we need to have upfront, and we are prepared for all the adversities we may encounter. Planning for the tour started, I remember, immediately after a milestone of marriage of the younger one was reached, in February 2015.

Even before we left on July 11th, as is a habit, I pondered over what should be areas of interest during any such planned, prolonged and pricey travel. And it struck me that cultural differences is normally the talking point when ever relatives from such far away, modernized places visit us. And so comparing cultures was obvious topic of study. 

I have learnt, though not in an organized way, culture is what you see, feel and experience in the communities. I did look for more standard definitions and zeroed on:

Culture (noun)
1. The ideas, customs, values, and social behavior of a particular people or society.
2. The arts, artifacts, systems, processes and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.

I was conscious, all these four months, to note these aspects where ever we went. 

I feel, before I start elaborating on my observations, it will be of interest to students of sociology and humanities, if I present findings of some studies, which will perhaps explain my observations as well.

Besides, when you are visiting a place which is allowing you to travel and hosts you, while narrating experiences the challenge is to ensure you do not hurt the popular sentiments and at the same time present your views objectively and dispassionately. In order to be objective in my narration, I looked for quantitative studies and thought of relating ground level experiences with the findings of the studies.

In order to ensure I do not become a bore and drive my friends away from reading this monologue, I plan to cover various aspects in following order, in future posts:

·         Theoretical aspects and findings of studies describing national cultures;
·         Comparison of Indian and American culture by scholars keeping the dimensions used for study in view;
·         My observations related to cultural dimensions keeping definition of culture in focus;
·         My learning from the tour for the benefits of those younger ones who plan to visit or migrate.

Your comments are welcome, as usual. They will help me cast my narratives better.