While traveling around, being touristy and visiting different health care facilities, our group has encountered a few issues while trying to communicate effectively with others. India has some soft talkers, and life is hard here for a Midwestern accent. Other than the few times it has been a bit frustrating trying to soak up all the available knowledge from our various teachers however, our communication breakdowns have been quite comical. For example, on the multitude of occasions that we have been lost trying to find our destination for the day, or the closest Chutneys, we are almost without fail given the same directions: “Go straight.” No one wants to tell us they don’t know, or have never even heard of that place. Regardless, I can promise you, India is anything but one straight road. Once, at a literal fork in the road, Dr. Gopal asked our driver which way we were headed: (motioning forward) “straight.”
In another instance, during a night dining out, we asked our waiter for the number to a local cab company. After rephrasing the question two to three ways, and after twenty minutes lag time, he returned with the business card for the restaurant manager. We briefly considered giving the listed cell phone number a call and seeing if he, and his car, might be available….
This is the door to the bathroom at one of the local hospitals, located in the microbiology department: “Caution: Radiation Area”. Not so surprising that Jared wandered around for a bit when pointed down the hallway.
This is what happened when I stole Dr. James’ daiquiri, because it did not look like a daiquiri at all (not that it really looked like a martini) and I did not understand the person that handed it to me in the least. Not a terrible outcome.
On the semi reverse side of these occurrences, I have an Indian friend back in the States who whenever she puts her name down for a table at a restaurant or orders a drink at coffee house, she calls herself Anna. This is not even close to her name, but it was once repeated back to her at a Panera in high school when the cashier was struggling to understand what she had said. Since that time she has adopted the name and continues to use it out of convenience. This past weekend in India, while waiting for others to finish meandering around the mall, I decided to grab a coffee at Starbucks. When I received my order, sharpied on the side of the cup was: MANI. Touché India. I think I might be better off adopting an Indian name for the rest of our stay– maybe I will just steal my friend’s. For the other communication issues, I think I will just smile a lot.