Culture and Gratitude.
He is my friend and ex-colleague JK. He is from South Korea and my first foreign friend whom I know in person.
Back at L&T, I made acquaintances with my U.S. clients and after every weekly-status call, we used to share our weekend plans or any interesting updates from the past week. After one such status call, my client sounded rather excited - she was happy for her eldest son who had just graduated, got a job, and had moved out. I fell short of words - no American sitcom had prepared me enough to respond to a mother who was proud of her son moving out, having earned his independence!
That was my first ever encounter with a cultural difference and I took a moment to grapple and make sense out of it.
Coming back to JK - HE PROFUSELY THANKS PEOPLE AROUND HIM! Ofcourse, 'profusely' is the adjective I use to describe, while he finds it normal to thank people and shamelessly express gratitude if the other truly deserves it.
During the few hours of stupor, when we had eased a bit and our inhibitions were low, he did comment on my responses to his expressions of gratitude - he had found them to be sarcastic and, often, demeaning.
I, in my stupor, was flabbergasted! I could only bring myself to admit that I didn't know how to respond because no one had ever thanked me as much as he had.
Looking back, in general, I feel, we Indians swear and complain a lot more than we thank people around us. Often, we just regard the other person to be doing his/her job and fail to even acknowledge their presence.
JK taught me this: how about thanking people for doing their job!?
I have way more than what I can learn in a lifetime...baby steps nonetheless...
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