Challenges of being a women in India

By Catalina Quinones

During the last weeks Laura and I have been working on the hotel website, photos, and social events. It’s been amazing since almost all the hotel staff and some guests already know us. Indian people are extremely friendly. Indians, as collectivists, use communication to build and maintain relationships. In this sense, they do not like to say “no” in order to do not offend anyone. This has been challenging for me because I have had to analyzed their non-verbal communication in order to determined when they feel comfortable with some of my request.

During the weekend, our boss invited Laly and me to the only bar in Kerala. As I wrote in my past blog, Indian’s women do not go out at night. When we arrived at the bar I could stop feeling award. Of the nearly 100 people at the bar, we were only 4 women. All of us were foreigners. When we entered the bar all the men looked us with amazement because we were women. Normally, men are the only ones who go to bars and dance only among them. We arrived to the bar at 9pm but at 11pm we had to get out of the bar because as women it was too late for us.

People in India are really friendly, come up and talk to Laura and I in the street, sometimes really out of curiosity. We have had some great conversations in which we have learned a lot about their culture, festivals, and temples. However, our boss warned Laly and I that as women we have to be very careful with the eye contact with strangers, especially with men. The eye contact should be brief and never intimate. In a culture where the sexes are segregated, eye contact and smiles with the opposite sex can be misinterpreted. In India, women have to be very careful with body language.

This week we have been working at Nattika Hotel, another hotel of the group. At Nattika hotel Laura and I prepared a yoga evening class with a special dinner at the end. The purpose of this event was to give the guests an opportunity to meet different people. The event was very funny. It is amazing how based on the people’s behavior one can be able to guess where they came from. Who we are can not be separated from where we are from. During the dinner Hispanic people were very loud, this is definitely part of our culture.

Being in India has been tough. Especially in adapting to a lifestyle, culture, and behaviors so different to the mine. From my point of view being a woman influences much. This experience has been a challenge for me, since I come from a culture in which as a woman I can say, think, and behave like a man. However, I have always had in mind that tough moments are part of the experience and that ultimately contribute to personal growth. Moreover, It is important to realize the importance of finishing what you started and not only finish it but completing the task to the best of our ability. This will leave a feeling with a sense of accomplishment.

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