August 07, 2008

How's the India?

I was chatting with a coworker in Gurgaon today. We were waiting for my computer to behave, and he asked, "How's the weather in Minneapolis?" I told him, feeling a bit silly for not being able to estimate the temperature in Celsius (it was early--for me).

Then I asked what his weather was like this time of year. "We're having the monsoons. Gentle rains every day. It's a very nice break from the heat."

I felt even sillier, not knowing it was monsoon season. That's kind of a big deal, although the fact that I hadn't heard about any flooding was good. Then he said, "Where is Minneapolis? It isn't on one of the coasts, is it?"

Woohoo for shared cultural ignorance! I at least know where Gurgaon is (outside New Delhi). He even thought I must have been to visit because I know the city is growing ridiculously fast. Nah. It's just in a big urban area in India. One follows from the other right now.

So I told him how to locate us quickly on a map. Then we went back to talking about the weather. Snow impressed him mightily, as did the entire concept of ice fishing. We were just getting into the local economy when my computer got its act together and we had to go back to work.

I love working for a global company.


Betül said...

A very similar thing happened to me once, actually. Ironically, I didn't know it was monsoon season either. My Indian colleague later told me that it must have been hard for me to live in Istanbul since there is rain nor water. Haha, I got him! (at least I knew what India had!) He didn't know that Turkey's coasts had four seas. Viva diversity, that is the cure for ignorance!

Stephanie Zvan said...

Funny how much we can learn just talking to each other, isn't it? :)

Istanbul is high on the list of places I really want to visit. I'm a bit intimidated by the idea of being the stupid American who doesn't speak the language at all, though. I'm not usually that disturbed by the idea of looking stupid, but I do hate being a walking stereotype.

Betül said...

I live in the USA for over 4 years and not many people know Turkey. I feel I am being stereotyped as "the girl from a muslim country". Being stereotyped is not such a pleasant feeling, I agree.

However as long as you keep the sales people happy, I am fully confident that you will never feel disturbed in Istanbul! Let me know if going there is in your plans any soon, I can give some hints :)

Stephanie Zvan said...

"The girl from the Muslim country"? With Turkey's rich and varied history, not to mention secular government, all they can see is that there are Muslims there? I could almost (almost) see it if you were from one of the nations that subsumed by the Soviet Union for a big chunk of lots of peoples' lives, but Turkey? That's just silly.

I hope you're not shy about letting them know how silly they are. :)

Unfortunately, Istanbul is not in the stars, or the checkbook, anytime very soon. But I will certainly take you up on those hints when I do manage to go. Thanks for offering.

You know, if you don't mind departing from science in your blog, you could probably teach people at least as much by blogging about Turkey occasionally. I know I'd be interested to read it.

Betül said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher said...

Turkey has, for a long time, been very high on my list of places I'd love to visit, and, like Stephanie, I know enough about Turkey's history and present diversity to think of it as more than "a Muslim country". Then again, I can't think of any country I'd define or refer to in such a way--even Saudi Arabia or Iran where forms of Islam are so thoroughly entrenched in the government.
Among other things Turkey's extremely long history has always fascinated me. Just the age of the Çatalhöyük site is breathtaking.