Culture Shock.

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Akanksha, Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Nema, Noor,Ordinary Joe, Paul,Maria the Silver Fox, Padmum , Rohit, Will knott, and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get seventeen different flavours of the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by gaelikaa.

Who else in the LBC but gaelikaa, could have come up with this topic? She is still getting over the shock after so many years in India after transplanting herself from the Emerald Isles. If she would like us to learn if she has, or she is still recovering from it, this should be the opportunity for her to share with us on the subject. I eagerly look forward to her post on this subject

I have been exposed to culture shocks of a type rather unusual to most people. They were all, thankfully experiences in my work place and did not affect my family, particularly my late wife who blissfully lived through some traumatic times that I went through, as I did not share those problems with her when they happened. After retirement of course, I shared all of them with her as we had a lot of time together to talk about things that we did not have during my working days.

The first culture shock for me was when I first visited the UK on summons from our Head Office. In India, I was used to working long hours, traveling over week ends, etc. I found that my hosts, including my immediate boss and his boss were, what we in India call clock watchers. At five past five pm, you could not find a body other than the janitor in any of our offices. Friday afternoons went mostly in talking about the ensuing week end and Monday mornings about how the week end went! I told myself that I could get used to that life style, but on return to home base, the local culture simply would not allow for that kind of nonsense!

Then came the next one, when I quit my multi-national employer to join a family owned and run Indian company where the culture was totally different. Luckily for me I was recruited by a friend who was the founder of the company who wanted change to be brought in and had agreed to let me have a free hand. In all fairness, the culture shock was more for the employees than for me as they were not used to a professional style of management and as usual, went running to the owner when they thought that I was doing anything crazy. The owners stood by me and I was able to do what I was contracted to do. To some extent, the fact that I had to do some explaining to the owners was a shock to me never having had to do anything like that before. The five years there were very productive for both of us and I retired from work, amicably and we are still friends.

I retired from that five year stint and stayed at home for six months, when another friend dragged me into a consultancy assignment which quickly became a full time employment. It was with a much bigger company but still run by a patriarch though for legal reasons it was a public company listed on our stock exchanges and managed by a board of directors. The culture shock here was different from the earlier one as, the employees were of a different caliber,the Chairman was an Oxford educated sophisticate and the customers were completely different. I had to adapt, they had to adapt to me and it was a see-saw roller coaster ride for three years and finally I went back into retirement.

The next culture shock was not so much a shock as an adjustment as I went to South India where I had roots and was comfortable with the local culture and that particular industry. My late wife and son had problems adjusting to the local conditions and so they stayed on at Pune and I ran a bachelor home there. I thoroughly enjoyed that assignment and had to spend two stints there to set everything up and had a grand time doing that as more or less the swan song of my managerial career. After that I really retired from active full time working and came back home for a different career.

I would summarize that culture shocks in my case were more to do with finding new environments to which I had to adjust and/or get the environment to adjust to me. As long as the adjustments took place, there were no upheavals. Things quickly became the norm with a bit of give and take. A similar adjustment had to be made by my father when he moved in with us after having lived his way as the Lord and Master of everything he purveyed. He has had to make adjustments to his new environment and now life is placid for him and his environment too!

Now to lighten up the mood, here is a subtle message on culture shock.

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