Salt on wounds

I know I know that right now is the worst possible time for this story. I know we’re supposed to be all “ABCD-FOB Bhai Bhai!” but this is just too funny to pass up.

He said it, I just blogged it.

A mobile phone game … will be used to help international students cope with ‘culture shock’ and university life in Britain … The game – called C-Shock – is the brainchild of University of Portsmouth academic and games technology expert Nipan Maniar who, himself, arrived in the UK from India five years ago as an international student…
Nipan said the game would act as an ‘e-mother’ or ‘mobile mummy’ for new students. [Link]

When you hear e-mother you imagine a sort of Tamagotchi in reverse right? Something that nags you to eat enough, sleep enough, and call home? [Actually, you don't need a mobile game for that, just a mobile]

“E-mother” could be expanded with modules to help explain how you do your own laundry, something my white American roommate could have used freshman year. (When asked how he had survived in summer camp he said he just looked clueless until a girl took pity on him and did his laundry, so he had never done a single load on his own. We mocked him mercilessly).

But no, Maniar means something else. He means the culture shock that comes from seeing people kiss in public and from seeing students (especially girls) drink:

The game’s opening scenario is a student’s first day at university in the UK. The student is shown a map of the campus and is given tasks to find specific locations. Clicking on images along the way warns the student about what to expect in terms of culture shock – for example, it is acceptable for students to drink alcohol and it is okay for people to display affection in public. [Link]

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p>He’s basing this on his own recent experience:

He said: “I found some aspects of British culture very novel. When I first saw a couple kissing in public, for example, I was really shocked. And things such as interacting socially with others, say, in a pub, were very different to what I was used to in my own culture in India. Alcohol is banned in Gujarat where I come from, so the drinking culture came as a shock too. [Link]

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p>Now maybe some readers might not understand why this is funny. Yes, culture shock is a very real thing and there are real cultural differences that have to be bridged. But of all the areas of cultural difference, this researcher picked the two which are to me the most minor, but also the most stereotypical.

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p>I also don’t understand why he’s calling it e-mother rather than e-buddy, or e-yaar. This sort of cross-cultural translation is usually done by friends, not by mothers sitting in the homeland. Why not be honest about it? Have it say, after a couple of pints “Dude, you’re going to puke and I am not cleaning that up.” Or, “Mate, that’s the cheesiest line I’ve ever heard anybody use in their life. Here, watch how it’s done. This is how you chat up a bird.” Or “Stop studying so hard, and let’s go grab a curry – that’s what uni is for!”

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p>Now that would truly be an introduction to UK uni life. As for the rest … most Indian students studying abroad have seen American movies and TV (my cousins watch far more than I do, the TV is never off!), I think they can figure it out.

76 thoughts on “Salt on wounds

  1. Speechless …. what was he thinking?

    And,Ennis I protest: a) Its ABCD-DBD b) Why bhai-bhai?Why not bahen-bahen? Why are you perpetuating the patriarchal system ? Why not bhai-bahen? …oh, never mind!

  2. Yes, culture shock is a very real thing. And yes, there are real cultural differences that have to be bridged.

    Yes, and until Indian culture realizes how backwards and oppressive it is, especially to hyper-enlightened white women like myself, it will continue to confuse and ruin its young people by hypocritically being the country of lingam worship AND antiquated social values. Why doesn’t this E-Mother also tell the under-endowed Indian male how to satisfy my exotic yoni? Also, Hare Krishnas once had a similar idea to this service but they, like everything related to Indian culture, are hopelessly inferior to my conception of what India should be, through my omnipotent western gaze.

  3. As for the rest … most Indian students studying abroad have seen American movies and TV (my cousins watch far more than I do, the TV is never off!), I think they can figure it out.

    Even ones who don’t study abroad have plenty of knowledge of what goes on in the Big Bad West. I have a little cousin in Delhi whose favorite song in 05 was T-Pain’s “I’m in love with a stripper”….

    ……….

    I’m sure they’ll be fine.

    Of course, the possibility for culture shock lies everywhere. What if someone from a small conservative town in Arkansas moved to NYC?

  4. One reason for both this crap and the crap on the previous post about Desi lit. Intellectual laziness.

  5. He said: “I found some aspects of British culture very novel. When I first saw a couple kissing in public, for example, I was really shocked. And things such as interacting socially with others, say, in a pub, were very different to what I was used to in my own culture in India. Alcohol is banned in Gujarat where I come from, so the drinking culture came as a shock too.

    Sounds like this kid would face culture shock if he moved to Bangalore!

  6. Yes, and until Indian culture realizes how backwards and oppressive it is, especially to hyper-enlightened white women like myself, it will continue to confuse and ruin its young people by hypocritically being the country of lingam worship AND antiquated social values. Why doesn’t this E-Mother also tell the under-endowed Indian male how to satisfy my exotic yoni? Also, Hare Krishnas once had a similar idea to this service but they, like everything related to Indian culture, are hopelessly inferior to my conception of what India should be, through my omnipotent western gaze.

    There is hope. But you are not the only one who is put off, I find my black and latino guru-sisters to be more appalled at how they (and other women) are treated in India than the white sisters.

    I had an idea to do seminars in India for young men and women coming from there to America to work but got discouraged when I saw alot of the companies that employed them were already doing that.

    Now I’m thinking of doing something here, marketing the electronic “ananda bindu” was an idea one guru-brother had. That might require demo though and I don’t know who the practicalities of that would pan out.

    Bascially, as India is undergoing huge social and economically change right now, the market is ripe for just about anything. We have alot of really good ideas but just need some bora log paise walle to fund us.

  7. Yep agree, pretty much is UK uni life. ;)

    Did you study in the UK ennis?

    One thing though, when a class tune came on in a club, the international south Asian students could bust a move, no divisions on the dance floor.

  8. I think most modern-day desis have absolutely no culture shock when they reach the shores of the western world … Undergrad life in India in a majority of colleges, is filled with alcohol/rock music/and freedom .. and so is life in any indian metro after that… Coming here for grad studies, which most DBDs do these days, is hardly a shock by any means for most people…

    if anything, the ‘shock’ is the fact that it was so easy to move here culturally

  9. Does the thing remind students to say “eraser” instead of “rubber”?

    The pharmacist tends to look at you funny when you ask him if he has any extra-large Trojan erasers in stock.

  10. “This is how you chat up a bird?”

    Brit-slang aside, I’d be taking that e-buddy back in for repairs. ^__^

  11. Well frankly, my experience is that the people back in the desh expect western values to be alot more liberal than what they really are. My cousins expected me to have several lovers at the same time.

  12. The pharmacist tends to look at you funny when you ask him if he has any extra-large Trojan erasers in stock.

    Ennis you got most of the details right. Main brands are Durex and Mates in the UK.

    Actually calling it a rubber in the UK is not too bad, I used to call it a rubber when I was a lad. The other main cause of trans Atlantic hilarity is asking for a ‘fag’, which means ‘cigarette’ here. ‘I’m dying for a fag’ put my cousins from Long Island in stitches.

  13. Culture shock is great motivator – makes a person create the Muslim Brotherhood – makes a person create the game C-Shock

  14. When I first saw a couple kissing in public, for example, I was really shocked

    When I first saw a couple (two men) kissing in a club, for example, I was really shocked.

    But what do you expect from a kid who just landed from Madras.

    You might know it as Chennai, but it will always be Madras to me. Hey you on the motorbike, sell me one of your melons.

  15. Is effigy burning one of the options in the game?

    Yes, but first you have to kiss somebody who is drinking.

  16. I like the concept.. But I think he applied it in the wrong way.. Rather than create a computer game he should have written a book or guide sort of like those dummies guides then distributed it over the net..

  17. well e-mother does sound kind of weird.. but I guess if you look at it as something that tells you what to do and what not to do then it is sort of like your mother..

  18. It does not seem like a bad idea. Good to have basic information for cash machines, banks, police info, all in your phone. Its just handy.

    I think they will still have the C-shock even if they know about aspects of the culture before hand.

  19. It does not seem like a bad idea. Good to have basic information for cash machines, banks, police info, all in your phone. Its just handy.

    PDA in your PDA?

  20. Now maybe some readers might not understand why this is funny. Yes, culture shock is a very real thing and there are real cultural differences that have to be bridged. But of all the areas of cultural difference, this researcher picked the two which are to me the most minor, but also the most stereotypical.

    you think they are minor because you’re not the one dealing with the “culture shock”. who gets to decide which aspects are “minor” and which are “major”? shouldn’t it be the people who are actually facing and dealing with these issues? if they think people kissing in public is a big deal, maybe it is a big deal for them and not that minor.

    i was at a panel discussion where we had 3 japanese and 3 chinese students who had just moved here, talking about cultural differences between the US and their countries and what aspects of american culture they had the most difficulty adapting to. the first thing that came up was the fact that people here are so physical. every single one of them mentioned that it took them a while to get used to the fact that when they were at a bar/club and a friend (of the opposite sex) walked up to them, they were supposed to hug that person. such “physical contact” is just not the norm in their culture.

    i think this is a minor issue in the bigger scheme of things, and they would probably agree, but it was still the first thing that came up and one which all of them agreed upon.

  21. Is effigy burning one of the options in the game? Yes, but first you have to kiss somebody who is drinking.

    I thought it was when you muck up ducky fuzz …

    There’s got to be something about pot noodles in there … and baked beans …

  22. It does not seem like a bad idea. Good to have basic information for cash machines, banks, police info, all in your phone. Its just handy.
    PDA in your PDA?

    Dammit, Ennis, you beat me to it.

    Troll (#19): Seriously. Can we have ONE POST on this site that does not degenerate into some kind of religion-bashing free-for-all? Stuff it.

    PG (#9): I don’t even know where to begin. I’m cracking up so hard I swear I’m going to pee my pants. It’s great to see that you’ve recovered so nicely from the sensahumorectomy, though. Is the feeling you’re not getting something the equivalent of phantom limb pains for amputees?

  23. i think a trial by fire is the best option. what if someone hijacks your E-Amma and starts giving you bad advice like:

    “Etiquette is paramount in british society. Please do remember to greet all women as ‘Mingin’ Mingaz’ and all men as ‘Fassy Wastemen.’”

    “Slang is important in American society. Please remember to greet fellow brown students as ‘macaca’ and all others as ‘Decadent Imperialist Resource-Grubbers’”

    Or more practical stuff like:

    “The business end of the bong does not contain murky water.”

    or

    “The great wastebin full of plastic squares in front of the health clinic is your best friend.”

  24. Sounds like this kid would face culture shock if he moved to Bangalore!

    Sounds more like he would face culture shock if we came out of his house in India. Or if he turned on TV.

  25. PG (#9): I don’t even know where to begin. I’m cracking up so hard I swear I’m going to pee my pants. It’s great to see that you’ve recovered so nicely from the sensahumorectomy, though. Is the feeling you’re not getting something the equivalent of phantom limb pains for amputees?

    Salil Sahib -

    I got it all right! I got back, sarcasm, and facetiousness…. ergo my #9 post complete with “electronic ananda bindu” ($500.00 to you if you get what that is).

    A guru-sister/brother is someone having the same guru as you. Some of them are old enough to have been hippies back in the 60′s and early 70′s, but most of them were not. Most are Indians. No hippie dippie in bharatiyan sanskriti beta! Woh cheez firang log ke liya – sirf! Samje? Thik. Tora dudh piyo….

  26. No hippie dippie in bharatiyan sanskriti beta! Woh cheez firang log ke liya – sirf! Samje? Thik. Tora dudh piyo….

    Ha. Sez you. If you haven’t seen a desi hippie, you need to get out more, or at least watch H&KGTWC or something. And you should know better than to offer doodh to an adult brown, considering the prevalence of hypolactasia and the corresponding MCM6 gene in the South Asian population at large.

    And yeah, I get your illogic yogic reference, too. Cough up $500. Feel free to paypal me in rupees, if it makes you feel better.

  27. Ha. Sez you. If you haven’t seen a desi hippie, you need to get out more, or at least watch H&KGTWC or something. And you should know better than to offer doodh to an adult brown, considering the prevalence of hypolactasia and the corresponding MCM6 gene in the South Asian population at large. And yeah, I get your illogic yogic reference, too. Cough up $500. Feel free to paypal me in rupees, if it makes you feel better.

    Doodh – actually I’ve seen a desi “hippie” looking type — long-ass black hair down to his paccha, lotus-petal shaped eyes, eyebrows like the bows of Kama Deva — long hair swaying in the wind as he drove off on his bindaaz motorcycle after looking up and winking at me standing on my veranda. He was renting a room in the same building I was – but engaged to be married to a Norweigen girl, so alas, no shekshy shekshy for me. But he was not a hippie. Just looked kind of like one…. a clean one and hot one.

    I don’t think I have ever met a real “desi hippie” actually, but I’m game for it.

    Nope, you still didnt’ get the “ananda bindu” right.

    Anyway, don’t want to give it completely away as I do plan to patent and market it.

  28. People make it sound like all Indian Born Desis are some version of Peter Seller’s impression! Shame. That game guy should have looked past his books some.

  29. The pharmacist tends to look at you funny when you ask him if he has any extra-large Trojan erasers in stock.

    Better known as Plan B.

  30. Al_Chutiya wrote:

    Also not stoning the residences of players when your favorite team loses.

    Something like this

  31. Alcohol is banned in Gujarat where I come from, so the drinking culture came as a shock too

    REALLY?!!??! This macchaan is making an ulloo of everyone. In Gujarat years ago when pagers were still a novelty, my client complained about having to be seen with one. “I don’t like carrying this around, I do it only because my company insists on it. When janta sees this they think I must be in constant touch with my bootlegger.” The sale and consumption of liquor is officially prohibited. You know what that means in India! There are two types of hotels and lodging houses in Gujarat – the ones that openly serve alcohol, and the ones that do it on th sly. There is a thriving illicit hooch business, operated by persons unknown, in connivance with officials, who are drawn from all communities that populate the great state of Gujarat. Prohibition in Gujarat is as farcical as farce gets. Prohibition is on its last legs in Gujarat, and Narendrabhai is looking for the right time to revoke it. The Congress has been making some feeble noises of protest, as have the oter parties (BJP included). Since bootleggers are going to be thrown out of business, the dissent is understandable. As for the other vice Maniar is talking about. let’s not get started on it!

  32. It’s not ALL off the mark. I remember being extremely uncomfortable as a first-year grad student to have my officemate making out with his girlfriend (VERY mildly, she sitting on his lap and checking her email on his comp, but that was weird enough for me at that time! They did actually kiss sometimes, in that position. Oh yes, he was white and she ABD, so that made it even weirder for me).

    I think one of the problems that I had with that kind of situation was “Where do I look”? Usually I pretended to be completely absorbed in work…

    I have so many little stories about my FOBby experiences like this that many of my friends say I should collect them. Never fails to entertain :D

    Here’s a couple more:

    1) I was walking across campus and came across this (very cute Asian) girl carrying a large plastic box chock-ful of condoms. I was stunned and could not IMAGINE why she’s be doing that. I later did muster the courage to actually go up and talk to her and ask her…apparently she was the ‘health rep’ for one of the dorms, and part of her job was to keep the condoms stocked. Huh…

    2) Or when I was a TA in my first, this extremely HOT super-smart undergrad who used to visit me at EVERY office hour I had, to ask questions, badger for better grades, or simply to whine about her life. She was very well-endowned, and knew it, and infallibly wore very low-cut tank tops. You bet I spent most of my session looking down at the floor.

    Sure, I think this ‘game’ will help :D

  33. It’s not ALL off the mark. I remember being extremely uncomfortable as a first-year grad student to have my officemate making out with his girlfriend (VERY mildly, she sitting on his lap and checking her email on his comp, but that was weird enough for me at that time! They did actually kiss sometimes, in that position. Oh yes, he was white and she ABD, so that made it even weirder for me).

    Sitting on lap while checking emails and occasionally kissing is not “making out”.

    Anyway, I get so happy in India when I see couples touching in anyway. It just appears so sweet and loving and joyful and brightens my day to know two lovers are happy.

    Feel the same way when I see it here. But here it’s normally seen. Where it’s not brings an added sense of “rightness” to it.

  34. Sitting on lap while checking emails and occasionally kissing is not “making out”.

    Sure, but it did bother me at that time. Just wanted to make a point that this can be a genuine source of cultural confusion, even though it seems laughably trivial.

  35. Sitting on lap while checking emails and occasionally kissing is not “making out”.

    You’re right, it’s more discomfiting.

    (I never get these people who so urgently need to check their e-mail that they can’t find their own computer or chair.)

  36. I hear you. I was shocked when I went to Bombay for the first time and saw couples really making out along the shore as I walked on the pedestrian sidewalk. I had seen hand-holding in India, and mild kissing in America, growing up, in public, but I was shocked at the “making out” in public – that too in India. Especially because where I was living in India at the time, nobody did that and the culture was very conservative (for couples).

    I was also shocked by a grown (about 18 years of age) boy (young man) sitting on the lap of his mom and embracing her and them tickling each other in the cyber cafe which they owned. I also pretended to be absorbed in reading/writing an email. Funny. Their behaviour was “borderline” to me. But looking back I just think it was their way of showing affection between mother and son, perhaps in their family or town that was normal or something.

    I’ve only recently (past 7 years) become comfortable with overt PDAs.

  37. You’re right, it’s more discomfiting. (I never get these people who so urgently need to check their e-mail that they can’t find their own computer or chair.)

    Have you ever been in love Kathakavi? It makes you want to touch your beloved every chance you get – even while checking emails.

    It’s that first wave of high, intoxication, bliss-filled, ananda-enducing, sweet, sweet, sweet love that makes you feel like ur floating on clouds all day….

    If it ever happens to you, you might find yourself sitting on that special someone’s lap too. And anyone who has darshan of such a sweet and joyful site will be blessed, probably more so than going to any mandir.

    Human affections is something to be celebrated in an age where most humans are fighting.

  38. Yes, but I prefer the comfort of my chair when checking e-mails. My boyfriend’s kind of skinny. Not to mention that I’d be hindering his use of the office computer, which can get him pretty annoyed.

  39. think one of the problems that I had with that kind of situation was “Where do I look”? Usually I pretended to be completely absorbed in work…

    i feel the same way…its different when you are watching such things on TV…we are used to taking that with a huge pinch of salt n some mirch masala…but PDAs in real life does make me toooooo uncomfortable…mostly i want to pretend that its ok…but its too tough to hide me expressions n i end up looking like a monkey