Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Customs and Etiquette

The customs and etiquette are such that it differs from one organization to another organization and from one country to another country. The etiquette that may be acceptable in one country may not be at all acceptable in another country; therefore, it becomes imperative for us to know about the customs of a country that we may be planning to visit for studies or work. Visiting as a tourist can sometimes forgo the hardship involved in learning the customs, for they are normally easily excused for their behaviours umm misbehaviours in most of the countries.

Even as simple as driving culture differs; if it is in India the louder the honk the better it is and if you nearly knock down a pedestrian you may be shouted at for not using the horn, in traffic jams, crowded areas and while overtaking you have to honk as much as you can. But it is just the opposite in Australia and elsewhere, honking is reserved for emergencies only. If you hear a sound of the horn there, be rest assured that the driver must be an Asian or some great mishap must have happened.

We had a good laugh when one of the Bhutanese student who bought a car and when asked about the fuel he proudly mentions that it is a diesel engine. The car must have burnt a big hole in his pocket in due course of time because patrol being cheaper than diesel in Australia.

Indians likes themselves to be called by the surname and most of the Bhutanese while they go there on studies or training it becomes hard to locate them by name, if you happen to go and visit them, as they would be known by the second name for their Indian friends. Sri Lankans would have very long name almost depicting the family history from the paternal side with their names, they prefer to be called by their first name which is theirs and not their father’s or grandfather’s.

Aussies however old or powerful likes to be addressed by their first name. Prefixing their names with sir or madam is not appreciated. Trying doing that out here and one would be in big trouble or the work will not get done.

The earlier Bhutanese travelers to the foreign countries must have undergone lots of troubles for not having surnames like in so many other cultures. Eyeballs were rolled when I traveled with the family abroad for not having the common surnames, but they seemed to be aware of our culture therefore having to prove the relationship with the legal documents was excused.
We nod our head to signal agreement or understanding what is being told, but some Indians mostly south Indians shake their head side to side to signal the same, which may easily be construed as the opposite for us.

Bhutanese are fond of shaking hands with both the hands (except those in military) it is the sign of respect but doing so with the western lady may send a wrong signal. Receiving and offering to the person older and senior to us are done with both the hand however, inconvenient it may be; that culture got spilled over to the handshaking which is not a Bhutanese culture.

Never eat with left hand when you are in India because the Indians never use the sticks and stones which are responsible for the hard maintenance of the toilets in Bhutan. Even using the toilet papers is sometimes scorned. I think the climatic conditions dictate that because even Indians won’t dare to use their left hand and water in the colder places like Haa and Bumtang.

And never forget to belch hard in India on the dining table and holding it as much as possible in Europe and other western countries……..