Around Cultures: Understanding Mannerisms In India

Posted on August 11, 2012 in Travel

By R. Anupam Pillai:

I still remember I was in my middle school when I was curious to know why and how people belonging to different places behave differently? So, finally after waiting for a long time, my curiosity was satiated in the language class where I came to know about, what “mannerism” and “affectations” were all about. Terminologically, “mannerism” refers to a habitual or characteristic manner, mode, or way of doing something. It was very amusing to know how people tend to behave in different places, cultures, customs and traditions. But one can have a deep insight about “mannerism” when one keenly observes people in his surroundings and draws conclusive picture about the culture and place, they belong to. This was the beginning of my journey to explore different mannerisms of people across the nation. This article tries to portray various facets of Indian culture, how deeply it is engraved in a person and gives him/her distinct attributes, that is, pretty unique in itself.

I used to reside in a township near Varanasi, or formerly known as Benaras, which is an ancient temple city in the north India. People from all across the nation come here to visit the holy city situated at the banks of river Ganges. It is believed that people attain salvation once they visit this place. Amidst the hustle bustle of honking vehicles and overcrowded people, you still find serene and peaceful moments to cherish. And the people here are calm, relaxed and sometimes perplexed. It is also said that time stands still in Varanasi, and the people are free from all the worries and reside in a harmonious manner with people from other communities and cultures as well. This is a place where one can find true blend of different Indian cultures. Many a times, people can be seen at tea shops or paan (betel nut) shops; busy in their endless gossips. There’s a sense of love and compassion among people that keeps them together!

It would be ridiculous if I don’t mention anything about Delhi and the people there, fondly called as “Delhiites”. If you want to see the true picture of India, then do visit Delhi. Being the capital of India, it has great historical as well as political importance. But the thing that attracts the people from far and wide is the PEOPLE out here. During day time, people have a busy routine and monotonous life, mostly struggling for success but in the evening, there’s a perfect transformation, as people love to eat, dance and hang out with friends and near ones. The never-ending craving for food and “live-the-life-king-style attitude” is what defines the true Delhiites”.

The experience of visiting Kashmir in my summer vacations was heart- enthralling and beyond words. People visit it to enjoy the scenic beauty and moreover to get captured in the blissful serenity that they cherish throughout their life. But, the best part that attracts the visitors back to this ‘Paradise on Earth’, is again the people. Their love, care and hospitality makes the place more amiable. People are very friendly out here and won’t hesitate to invite you to their homes. In spite of the turmoil in the valley, people keep their spirits high. Behind every smiling face there may be unheard cries but they always stay happy, whatsoever the situation may be!

No other place can describe the ‘live-out-loud’ attitude as perfectly as Kerala. People are ardent lovers of art and culture. People are connoisseurs for witty jokes and mimicry acts, as these make them bid away all their worries and enjoy life. They may portray pompous and lavish lifestyles, but they are innocent, true and loving in nature. They love fish and food cooked in coconut oil. They love Saudi Arabia or gulf returned goodies so that they can boast aloud about them. But what makes them distinct is gold-laden attire that distinguishes a “Malayali” from the crowd.

When I came to Cuttack for the first time, there was a mixed feeling of excitement as well as anxiety about the people, whether they will accommodate me or not and how I will get used to their customs and culture. And, to my astonishment, I found this place to be better as people here were ever helping and cheerful. People here are very friendly but, it takes a while to get well accustomed to the place. My college is about two kilometers away from my hostel, and unfortunately, sometimes I miss my bus. So, on my way to college, me and my friends, ask for lift from passing vehicles and we have never been refused for the same. People here are cheerful and fun loving. They live, love and die for food. The city has shanty shops selling tasty Dahi vadas or rosogullas. What makes a “cuttacki” to be different is the way they enjoy their life to the fullest! It’s been a year or so and I’m at a place which is like a ‘home-away-from-home’ for me. There are many friends of mine coming from different cultures, ethnicity and places and I am still struggling to understand their mannerisms. They are Bengalis and Punjabis and they might be distinct in manner they behave, but still I find them similar in a way, which is being an Indian!