Saturday, July 26, 2008

International Body Language

The “head bob”-
This has nothing to do with any of the educational or cultural visits from the past few days but it is a constant topic of conversation in our group so I thought that I must write about it. This would be the Indian “head bob.” If you ask someone a question, they kind of move their head like a bobble-head toy back and forth. It is not really possible to discern from the head bob if the answer given is affirmative or negative or just merely an acknowledgement of having said something. Everyone does this from the hotel people to teachers in schools to people on the street. It is definitely a cultural phenomenon and even guidebooks have mentioned it. We think that politeness is so important that even if the answer is no, they would not say it, and so the multi-directional nod allows for a variety of interpretations that always remain polite. I generally feel like an idiot because I have to ask questions a million times to make sure I actually understand the answer.

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