March 2013 Archives

Anil Gupta India Inovations

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Anil Gupta is an Indian Proffessor who has created the Honey Bee Network to support grassroots organizations and people who are rich in intelligence not resources. 

The speech is essentially about the vast wealth of knowledge throughout the poor glasses of India that is untapped because they lack resources.

I think Gupta's choice of content was excellent. It was certainly interesting to me as I am an entrepreneur. I think it is also potentially quite accurate. It makes sense that there is a huge potential untapped in a huge segment of society that do not have the funds to act upon their own innovations. He makes the statement that "Any person, anywhere is capable of rising to the top." I am a believer that that statement is true, we each have gifts that we can act on and improve to rise to the top. One thing that Gupta could potentially have done better is to relate his content to the Western audience he was speaking too. Every example was specifically Indian and potentially lost a level of relatability. 

Gupta did an excellent job communicating. It was very clear that he was presenting in an Eastern manor. He spoke with a thick accent yet still in an understandable manor. He used hand motions yet communicated very little with his face. He also wore traditional Indian clothing which made it clear that he was speaking as an Indian to the Westerners listening. In comparison with Western speakers his delivery was more serious. There was no humor in it. He also did not communicate with facial expressions like most American speakers. I would also say that he talked about one subject for much longer than most Western speakers would since it could have been summed up in a briefer manor.  
Engineer R.A. Mashelkar delivered a fascinating talk about the development of many different products that we take for granted as being expensive, for a very low cost. In what he frequently referred to as "Ghandian engineering", he reiterated his engineering mantra that we need to create "more from less, for more and more people."

The content of his speech was extremely interesting. He talked about his involvement in the development of the Tata Nano, the world's least expensive automobile at $2,000 brand new. He also talked about the development of a durable artificial leg prosthesis, development of drugs to cure disease, and the idea that in order to make practical products for the two billion people who live on less than $2 a day, normal methods of engineering and development need to be radically changed, and already have been in India.

The delivery of this speech was definitely by someone who was an engineer by trade, rather than a professional speaker. Mashelkar spoke quickly throughout the presentation, with few pauses or rests between sentences. However, this made me pay closer attention to what he was saying, and ultimately helped to get the message across. Mashelkar was also limited in hand gestures, and seemed generally stiff onstage, despite walking leisurely around over the course of his speech. He however kept a confident tone throughout.

As to whether R.A. Mashelkar has a more eastern or western speaking style, I feel that he stuck close to Indian speaking norms. He took himself seriously, reiterated pieces of his point, and had more subtle, less staged transitions. However, I also feel he was keeping his audience in mind, as he was giving this TED talk at a college he used to attend as a student in India.

Link to the TED Talk:

Yasheng Huang: Does democracy stifle economic growth?

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Yasheng Huang is an economist and professor at MIT, originally from China. He is known for studying and writing about the history of China's economic growth. The speech he gave is depicted clearly in the title: Does democracy stifle economic growth? I thought he was going to give arguments that it does, but the case that he makes is giving evidence to his opinion that democracy is good for economic growth. He describes that the misconception that democracy stifles growth stems from the comparison of India and China, but explains that the two shouldn't be compared. It so happened that China became an economic "super star," and India has much slower growth when compared to China. However, when compared to other emerging economies, India's democratic government helps the country top the list over other authoritarian governments.


I found the content of Yasheng's speech interesting. He talks about a topic that I know very little about, however, it is easy to understand even without background knowledge. He does a good job communicating his points. His intro makes sense and provides an understanding of what the rest of the speech will be about. He gives persuasive points throughout his presentation. Quite a few slides were used that had illustrations and statistics, which made it both more interesting and more believable. There was one point of the speech that I found irrelevant. He gave a couple long examples of how infrastructure doesn't correlate with economic success and I didn't think it helped his case. His closing was a little different than what his original argument was. He made a statement about what he believes China should do, not about what democracy does to an economy.


Yasheng's delivery was mostly good with a few exceptions. His attention grabber at the beginning was good, made me interested to here his arguments. He kept his hands and gestures above his waist. The speech had a nice pace throughout with some good pauses. His voice inflections made sense and came at appropriate times. One downfall was that he kept his hand in his pocket for a decent duration of the speech. Some pauses were missed, which created confusing transitions. I liked the jokes that he made; there were only two or three but they were well timed and funny. He spent the majority of the time looking out into the audience. In my opinion, though, he talked too fast at some points. Overall he was able to keep me engaged and was enthusiastic about his subject.


Although Yasheng Huang was born in China, he has developed a style of presenting mostly similar to traditional western style. The speech had good structure, he used humor and appropriate hand gestures. He gave evidence supporting his case and other than his accent seemed to resemble many other speeches given in the west. I'm sure much of this is due to his role as a professor at MIT.

Rajesh Rao: A Rosetta Stone for the Indus Script

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Rajesh shares his knowledge about the Indus Script--a long lost language that has not been deciphered. He challenges his audience to care that this language has been lost. What would it reveal if became understood? What would we as a species discover? He introduced a few different hypotheses regarding the use and origin of the script.  With a background is neuroscience, Rajesh's day job consisted of creating computer models showing how the brain worked. Rajesh's fascination with the Indus Script followed him all the way from middle school. Recently, he had the opportunity to collaborate with other scientists that were using computing power to study the Indus script. He joined their team and starting studying the patterns and directionality of ancient messages. The rest of his presentation he continues sharing his fascination and speculating what the whole code could reveal.


            In regards to content, Rajesh used several parallels from the present and past to help portray his message. His presentation was very factual and strongly evidence based. His examples such as belief= bee leaf provided a solid understanding of the point he was trying to tell. He also started his presentation with an imagination exercise that helped the audience relate to the examples he was about to show.

            Overall, I felt his delivery was very westernized. He had a very outlined message and followed his slides with precision. He used graphs, pictures, sculptures, and other visuals as reference. One aspect I did notice was his high rate of speech and a relatively strong accent. Additionally he used his hands when he spoke but at times kept them relatively close to his body. The westernization of the presentation especially showed when making references to an "Ancient Wheel of Fortune" and other subtle jokes. In comparison to Dan Pink, Rajesh wasn't as outgoing and was seemingly a little more reserved. Additionally he didn't make jokes about himself. But ultimately, Rajesh's presentation was much more westernized than that of the other Indian speaker we viewed.


Sugata Mitra's Self-Teaching Experiments

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Arunachalam Muruganantham is an inventor known for creating an inexpensive solution to unsanitary menstruation practices across rural India.  In his TED speech, Muruganantham describes the story of how he came to create a simple sanitary-napkin making machine.  He further describes how his invention can be used as an employment opportunity for unprivileged women around the world. 

In terms of content, Muruganantham captures his audience's attention by opening with an overview statement and a focal pause leaving the audience on the edge of their seats ready to hear the story.  By telling the story of how his wife has to use unhygienic rags for her period instead of sanitary pads in order to afford essentials like milk, Muruganantham provides the background of why his invention is important to rural women everywhere. One critique is that he is so focused on telling a fun, memorable story that he does not actually describe what he invented until over halfway through the speech. Also, he concludes with the idea that as an uneducated person he invented this product and challenges the "surplus-educated" (the audience) to do something, potentially offending his listeners.

In terms of his delivery, he continues to capture attention through the use of jokes, but his over-use sometimes leave the audience forgetting the purpose of his speech.   He appears confident, friendly, conversational, and uses movement and gestures to add animation and interest.  However he also tends to move a lot, which can be distracting.   With his accent, his enunciation is so bad that the video provides subtitles for him.

Muruganantham's speaking style was quite different from Dan Pink who is an example of the traditional western style of speaking. In class, we learned that the rate of speaking is 150 words per minute in the United States and 190 words per minute in India. Muruganantham speaks extremely fast.  Muruganantham provides a story or evidence first and then his main point whereas Pink conveys his main point and then describes the evidence that supports it. Pink uses his entire face when presenting whereas Muruganantham barely even moves his eyes.  Murugantham uses story-telling gestures whereas Pink uses typical business gestures.  Pink tends to make jokes about himself whereas Muruganantham uses jokes that people in the audience could have experienced.  I recommend watching this video to gain a clear example of the differences between Eastern and Western speaking styles.


Shashi Tharoor, the speaker in the TED Talk video, is the Indian Minister of State for Human Resource Development, a Member of Parliament, an author, and an activist. For additional information about Dr. Tharoor, see his website:


In his speech, "Why nations should pursue 'soft' power," Shashi Tharoor acknowledges the typical way in which many define 'world leadership' - by population size, military power, nuclear power, purchasing power, growth rate, etc.  Instead, Tharoor asks the audience to reconsider the way in which India contributes to the world; he calls our attention to the influence of India through "soft power."  He defines "soft power" as the ability of a country to attract others because of its culture, political values, and foreign policies that may emerge partly through government actions and policies, but also despite the government; more specifically, he asks us to think about our encounters with India through the latter.  How do we understand India through food, traditions, media, music, television, film, and technology? 


Considering his speech from the standpoint of our Business Communications class, I think Tharoor's speech was well-done overall.  The content was interesting but a bit hard to follow in terms of the overall subject.  He defines soft power in the beginning and demonstrates specific examples of Indian soft power and its influence; however, the progression of his speech was difficult to follow.  I kept wondering how he would tie his topics back in to the main idea.  My confusion may be due to a difference in the way that speeches, story telling, and/or general thought processes are structured between India and North America.  Here in the States, we are taught to present an idea, support it with several clear points, and conclude.  I felt that Tharoor's speech began with a main idea and seemed to keep going with other ideas that were related until time was up and he concluded.


To his merit, I think he uses humor well in the speech; when talking about communications in India before the technological revolution, he employs innocent humor to acknowledge the previous lack of communications in India in a manner that appeals to a Western audience yet is not demeaning to fellow Indians.  Tharoor's delivery was good; he was easy to watch and listen to due to appropriate gestures, eye contact, stage movement, vocal tone and volume.   My only criticism towards his delivery was that he spoke very quickly and tended to progress rapidly from example to example.  As a result, I had to watch the video several times.


Overall, I enjoyed the video and appreciated the topic.  I think it would be an interesting point of discussion for class, because I would have liked to see the idea of the importance of soft power developed further.

TED Speech Review-Kiran Bedi

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                Kiran Bedi was the Director General of the Indian Police Service, she managed one of the toughest prison. She focused on prevention rather than detection, and education inside of the prison, and introduced meditation. She was the one of India's top cops-she earned a reputation for being tough, but innovative and committed to social change. Now retired from the national police force, she runs two NGOs that benefit rural and urban poor.

                She started the speech with her background: her parents educated her and three of her sisters which was unusual in 1950s in India. What sustains her life is two things. One is from her parents saying "life is an inclination: go up, or come down", and her own philosophy which is whatever happens in your life, 90% is your creation. As her background and philosophy described, she believes justice, and innovation. She is acting if she believes, and feels need of change.

                Her speech is following the sequences of her life time. It was very powerful when she was talking about her most recognizable career as a police chief. The examples how she brought the changes not only inside a prison, but the rule of policing in India. I think it was very powerful content she had: it was very organized and emphasized the climax of her career. I was very engaged to her speech. Not only because it was very inspiring, but also too fast. She was really good at getting to the point, but she wasn't almost breathing. Her delivery of speech was just speech itself. In other word, she didn't play around with her topic: no humors, no breathing.

                Kiran Bedi's speech style is very differ from Dan Pink. Kiran's speech is one direction speech unlike Dan Pink. She doesn't have interaction with audiences that much, she almost doesn't give time to respond. One more thing, she never moves! She uses only tiny spot of the stage. I see more movement from the western speakers. Dan Pink walks every corner of the stage to interact with audiences in different spots.

                Kiran Bedi and Dan Pink are just very different speakers. If Dan Pink makes me to think thoroughly about what he talks, Kiran Bedi makes me feel urgency. The way she speaks fast, and gives very focused eye contact, I feel like I should do something to change my life right away.             

India my (likely) Misperception

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   What do I know about India. Actually almost nothing. When I read the blog assignment and began to think about what I currently knew about India I realized it was shockingly little for a country that I was planning on visiting. I also realized that much of what I know is likely a misperception of the truth that is largely biased based on my Western perspective. 
   From my current understanding India is the largest democracy on the earth. There is however a large amount of corruption in the government. Most of India speaks Hindi although there is also a huge diversity of native languages. I also believe that India is largely Hindu but there is also some Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity. I also have heard of Bollywood which is a Hindi language based cinema center similar to Hollywood in some aspects. There is also the cast system that while it is technically illegal it is still visible throughout many aspects of Indian Culture. I have also heard that although India has many poor people it also has the largest middle class on earth, and it is still growing dramatically. 
   I expect I will probably be pretty tired an jet lagged immediately after getting to India. I think that I will be able to recuperate from that quickly. I have also heard that New Delhi is quite hot so I certainly expect that to be different than typical Minnesota May weather. I also am not thrilled about being required to wear pants in such hot weather but I'm sure I will be able to adapt to a certain degree. I really have no clue what to expect with cultural differences. I think it is likely that there will certainly be some cultural differences that I will have to adapt to but at this point I do not know what they are. Overall I am really looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about India.

India as I know it...or don't know it?

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Honestly, when thinking about my first impressions of India, I think back to when I was about six and the movie "The Little Princess" came out.  It was one of my favorites; the little British girl who was the protagonist lived most of her life in India -- now what I would understand to be in a British colony of India -- but she created a colorful, magical image of the place.  Even though it was over 18 years ago since it came out, the images of tigers and elephants, warm colors contrasted with girls dressed in perfectly white linen still stick out in my mind.  

Feel free to take a look at what my "first impression" was of India.  I wrote the above section before having watched these clips.  I watch it now after so long and squirm a little bit at the cultural exaggerations and the simplistic dimension in which such a large country is presented.  However while listening to Sarah speak in the second clip, I realized that some of the elements that Sarah mentions are things that I am so much looking forward to experiencing.  How much of what she talks about comes from some sort of truth?  I have been told that the smells and the colors of India are something that one only experiences there and are unlike anything in North America.  The heat and humidity are among some of these elements that I can only try to imagine, along with more modern things like their traffic 'patterns' and what the cities themselves will look like.  I even find myself thinking about how different the airlines might be in India when we travel from Delhi to Bangalore.  Truthfully, I am unsure of what to expect.  Not having had any exposure to the history of India or to Indian politics, I feel like I have so much to catch up on before we leave.  The book that I am reading for the course, India Becoming, describes modernisation in a way that depicts urban development since the 1990s as if it was dropped out of the sky or rolled out like a rug overnight.  I am curious to see the intersections of development and more traditional India.  Will there still be an evident contrast now in 2013?  In what ways?  Is development as positive to people in India as I feel like it is generally believed to be in North America? 

Having previously studied anthropology, I am pulled towards the cultural dimensions of India.  However, I am very excited to consider these dimensions in relation with the business world and the advantages of understanding culture in the context of commerce.  Seeing that I am relatively new to the field of business, I think it will be a prime opportunity for me to consider where I might fit in in an international firm someday.  

I realize my overview is cast in a rose-colored light, and I don't mean to appear naive, but I know the two weeks will be over before I have the chance to recognize it.  After having lived abroad in Spain and Canada, I am more excited to experience a greater cultural contrast in India than I have before and look forward to how these experiences may help me to understand about where I come from and where I will go in the future. 

Initial Impressions of India

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            Thinking about India, three things come up in my mind; curry, yoga, Mahatma Gandhi. I like curry very much, so I have known that the origin of curry since I was little. I tried yoga several times, but my body wasn't flexible enough to follow up my yoga instructor. I learned about Gandhi during my world history class when I was in middle school. I have to confess that I don't know many things about India. However, as a business major student, I have heard the importance of India as a growing country. I am aware of that India is going to be a big market because of its population. Furthermore, India is very attractive outsourcing country due to its highly educated workforce and compatible wages.


                Recently, I read about India whenever I see a title contains 'India'. Unfortunately, I read a lot about rape issues. It is not the problem only India has, but it might be deeply related to women's status in India. Even in western countries, inequality of men and women is often controversial. I think it will be interesting to see how it differs in India.  


                One more thing I know about India is that Indian movie is very long; at least 2 hours of playing time. I can't name the movie, but I watched one Indian movie several years ago. The movie was about a young daughter and dad, who lost wife. It was about 3 hours long, and the actors were singing and dancing quiet often. It was almost like a musical. I know the term Bollywood because India produces as many movies as Hollywood does. I indirectly experienced Indian culture, and street views through movie; it actually looked quite wealthy. Contrast to the movie, I also saw pictures of hungry Kids in India through WorldVison organization's magazine. The Kids looked very different from the girl I saw in the movie.


               I think that both kids are a true India, but I am not sure which side of India I will experience more closely. Finally the course started, and I am really looking forward to going to India. I might be able to enjoy curry, see people playing yoga, and feel the spirit of Gandhi during my visit. My shallow knowledge of India might not be valid anymore, or even wrong. I expect I can feel and understand India deeply through the visit.




Impressions of India

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My knowledge basis of India is very limited right now. All information I have comes from secondary sources like Bollywood movies my Indian friends have made me sit through or late night take-out ordered during finals week. One of my close friends (who lived in India for the first few years of his life) had an unsettling reaction when I told him where I would be spending two weeks in May. He gave me a sincere hug and said "don't die." I know he was mostly playing around, but the fact that my mother's response was not so different made me look into the violent crime rates. Needless to say, I am glad that we will be traveling with a group and staying on a university campus.

My father and stepmom have traveled to India several times each for business. They both described the heat, the dust, the traffic, the crowds and the ceaseless fervor. My stepmom told me about a time where she had to wait two hours to travel a couple of miles because there were a couple cows in the road. My friend has told me about the slums and how he returns from visiting his relatives with guilt over his American lifestyle. I have also traveled to impoverished countries before and I believe that those firsthand experiences give me an awareness that most people my age have not yet grasped.

As for the danger, I am really not worried - I am much too excited. After hearing a few of the etiquette differences in the business world, I am curious about observing those differences firsthand and adapting to them.  My impression of India is that it is a colorful and thriving mecca of culture. Its people survive in harsh conditions and its industry still manages to flourish on a global scale. 

Initial Impressions of India

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When I tell people that I will be studying abroad in India this May, many ask me why India? As the country with the second largest population on earth, India plays a large role in present and future global affairs. Although I do not know much about the country, I have always been interested in it.  One thing that always attracted me to India was its diverse culture.  Indians belong to many different religions, speak many different languages, and life is vastly different in the city than in rural areas.   I expect to see these differences as we travel from New Delhi to Bangalore. 

Much of what I know about India and its history draws from previous classes in high school and college.  In high school we read several novels set in India including Untouchables by Mulk Raj Anand. I learned that the caste system is very prominent in traditional Indian culture. The caste system segregates people into five different major groups, each with its own traditional hereditary occupation.  Brahmins have the highest social status whereas Untouchables have the lowest social status.   The Untouchables performed duties such as removing human waste and handling corpses. They were not allowed to worship in the temples with others and other castes often considered them contagious.  Unlike the class system in the United States, it was very difficult or even impossible for people to raise themselves out of the caste they were born into. Although the caste system is now banned, I know that discrimination is still present in India.  I am curious to see how life has changed for Indians with lower social ranking since the ban and expect to see elements of it while I am there.

I think that the hardest thing for me to get used to in India will be their emphasis on hierarchy.  I know that according to Hofstede's cultural dimensions, India scores very high on power distance.  In contrast, the United States prides itself on equality and I am personally a strong advocate for equal rights.  This different cultural approach to power will be difficult for me to understand and accept.  I am sure that I will observe this cultural difference as we visit different companies.  This is sure to be a life-changing experience for me.

The First Glance at India

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I admit I may have cheated a bit at the writing of this blog entry. Over spring break, I read through most of my assigned book for the class, India Becoming. I feel like I got some good insights from the book about what to expect. India has undergone a tremendous amount of growth in the last  several years, but much of it was unplanned, and as a result many of the urban areas we will visit can be chaotic, compounded by the summer heat. In the book, the author describes cities as generally having younger people with less strict traditions and some western habits, so I imagine many of the people we'll see in New Delhi and Bangalore will be close to our age, and while social norms will probably be different, I think the adjustment won't be that bad. However, I'm excited for far more than the people.

One thing I'm really looking forward to is the food. I really enjoy spicy foods. When I was in Arizona visiting my uncle, we met a friend of his from India, and she made us a curry chicken dish, which was fantastic. That was in 2008. Since then, I've wanted to try more Indian food, and now I'm going straight to the source!

Finally, I'm also looking forward to seeing how the IT industry has advanced itself in India. Being a professed tech nerd, I have a keen interest in seeing how some of the biggest tech names in the country do things on a day to day basis.

Initial Impressions Of India

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At this point in time I know next to nothing about the country of India.  What I do know is derived from Popular Culture such as movies, television, and books.  I have seen several Indian movies; Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire, and Aladdin and these have presented me with a representation of Indian culture and daily life that I am looking forward to seeing and experiencing for myself.  I have also read a couple of books based on Indian culture and about business practices in India.  The most important of which was called The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits by C.K. Pralahad.  The book discussed how the world's 5 billion poorest people represent the fastest growing market in the world, and that these people's suffering can be alleviated while at the same time bring global and domestic businesses profit.  It was an excellent book and because the majority of the case studies took place in India, it sparked my interest in India, and eventually played a strong role in my decision to enroll in this class.

                I think that the hardest difference to get used to while I am in India will be the various Indian Culture underpinnings that permeate their society; primarily the classic Eastern versus Western culture clash that we have discussed in class.  Everything from getting used to the food, to getting used to the temperature, all the way to the differences in business practices will take some time for me to accommodate.   Many Westerners find that trying to assimilate into Indian Culture and adjust to their way of life is very difficult and exasperating; I think that it will be no different for me.  Some of the things that I am more excited to learn about in the rest of class and during the time I spend in India are Religion, Social Structure, Art, and History.  I would like to learn about India from more of a Social Science perspective and then be able to apply all of that information into conducting business with people from the country of India.

Link to course file or websiteEast vs. West: They Myths that Mystify--TED video

First Impressions of India

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My initial impressions of India are very limited to movies and other people's stories/perspectives.  From this, I have deduced that India is a) very hot and b) very cramped.  To my knowledge, India has a billion people in their company.  That is crazy.  I can't begin to imagine how many people that is, especially in the area of land India has.  India has been growing rapidly not only in population, but in large business growth as well.  The amount of IT work that gets outsourced out to India is crazy, which is one of the reasons I am so excited to go to India seeing as I am an MIS major. 

                I am expecting a couple things out of India.  First is the heat.  I have a feeling that I am going to go through a ton of deodorant, as well as shower quite a bit just to clean off all of the sweat.  Second, I expect that the food will be nothing like I have ever had before.  I am really excited for this.  I have had some "Indian" food here in the US, but as with most American versions of foreign food, I expect the food from the home country to be quite different than we expect.   Last, I think that the interactions with the locals will be extremely interesting.  After watching the East vs. West TED talk, I hope that I will be able to note the similarities and differences of how we interact.

Blog # 1- Jon M

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Honestly, my knowledge of India is very limited. I cannot tell you their date of Independence, their official language, or the head of their nation. I can only spout off random facts that have succeeded in grabbing my attention during my 19 year upbringing. For example, I know that Gandhi, the peace leader, had a very prominent presence in India. Also, that George Orwell's Shooting an Elephant has relevance to the imperialism and colonialism that once overwhelmed India. Beyond that, my ignorance is overpowering.

 I know that India is located in a warm climate and is situated in Asian near the Indian Ocean. But I want to know much more than these elementary facts. I cannot wait to experience my first culture shock and submerge myself in a culture that is so drastically different from my own. Upon arrival in India, I imagine market-lined streets with vendors calling out in a chaotic fashion. Vans and carts carrying crops will be crowding the roads as our group navigates through the busy locals.

Understandably, I realize that these initial impressions may be totally incorrect. I actually hope I am wrong so I can drastically depart from my expectations as much as possible. Two perceptions of India have truly been clear to me while conversing about my upcoming travels. First: the smell. I have been told on several accounts that India has a very distinctive smell--and one that isn't necessarily complementary. I suppose I will have to see it (or smell it) for myself and embrace it wholeheartedly either way. Secondly, people never seem to forget about India's call centers. It will be interesting to see how this form of outsourcing has affected India's economy and other aspects of their society.

My interest is especially spurred through India's culture. Though my experience is limited to The Life of Pi and Slumdog Millionaire, I am eager to see more. I have also never had authentic India cuisine, so I am looking forward to trying new dishes and explore new tastes.

This will no doubt be a big adventure for me, and one that I will avidly be sharing with you!


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