Chetan Bhagat’s novel ‘Two States’ spread like wildfire across the country and soon enough, the sparkling, glitzy, Technicolor Bollywood movie followed in all its grandeur.
While the world marveled over the picturesque cinematography, the adorable romance between the couple, the acting prowess of the cast and the colorful explosion of Bollywood songs and sentiments, I was focused on something rather different.
The clash between Krish Malhotra’s (Arjun Kapoor) North Indian culture and Ananya Swaminathan’s (Alia Bhatt) South Indian Tamil culture awoke a lot of sensitivity in me and I realized how we have grown very fiercely protective of our own cultures and tradition. While this may be a beautiful sentiment to harbor in an age where tradition and culture is casually neglected, it may be coming at the price of learning to respect cultures that are different from ours.
Despite a vast increase in exposure and education, the need for cultural awareness has grown monumentally today and this especially extends into the professional forum. The work environment now includes people from all walks of life, who hail from different parts of the world. This influx carries a surge of different cultures along with it. Only by imbibing a sense of cultural competence in ourselves will we be able to respect people who are different from us.
With an increase in awareness, the harmony within different, sometimes even conflicting cultural groups will automatically increase and the team synergy becomes a symphony! This is the strength of cross cultural training.
At the end of ‘Two States’ what Krish and Ananya’s families realized, was that only by wanting to learn about other cultures would they be able to understand each other better. When they stopped believing that theirs was the superior culture and looked upon the newcomers with friendliness and a willingness to learn, understand and compromise, the newcomers became fond friends and even families!
In any environment, when we are met with people who are different, the first step towards understanding them is accepting their difference as a beautiful unique identity. I was overwhelmed with excitement at the prospect of the amount of beauty there is in exploring different cultures and this is what I carried with me at the end, when two complete opposite poles of traditions came together in a marriage that had the best of both worlds.
So embrace the adventures that come with meeting people from different cultures and shed your inhibitions! This little anecdote from a popular movie is one of many instances of the need for cross cultural training and cultural competence. This awareness is vital for both our professional and personal lives.
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