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A new perspective on India

Besuch aus Indien

Getting a precise picture of a foreign country, its culture and society can be quite challenging and complicated if you have never visited this country – and no matter how many videos you watch and texts you read in class, you can never be sure that the way you imagine it does indeed correspond reality.

Therefore, the students of the English advanced class E1, who are currently dealing with India, were very glad to welcome Harjyot, an Indian who moved to Germany about a year ago and visited one of our English lessons last week. While drinking tea and eating biscuits and cake, which created a comfortable atmosphere, she answered all of our curious questions about India, Indian culture and traditions, typical Indian food, the importance of religion and the tensions between the different religions that are represented in India. One aspect we were particularly interested in was the Indian caste system, a Hindu system of fixed hierarchical religious and social class, and its impact on the everyday life of every Indian citizen, regardless of whether they identify as Hindus or practise another religion. Thus, Indian people are given different opportunities, education and professions depending on their caste, which is their social status, and also people who do not belong into the caste system, since they are members of another religious group, are often asked to indicate their caste on official files.
What is more, Harjyot did not only respond to all of our questions about India but she also shared her personal experiences, opinions and preferences with us, such as her favourite aspect of Indian society: „That it somehow works“. Even though many cities are overpopulated, the streets are crowded at all times a day and poverty is widely spread, Indian society “somehow works”.

As Harjyot has been living in Germany for more than a year, she was additionally able to point out the striking differences between Indian and German society and culture. For instance, she mentioned that her first impression of Germany was that people appeared to be less outgoing and open-hearted than in India and that the rather organised daily routine in Germany stands in strong contrast to her experiences from India.

While she was talking and our understanding of India gradually broadened, new questions rose and we would have certainly continued talking for several hours without getting bored or running out of questions if the lesson had not been over after 45 minutes.

Besuch aus IndienThus, we remain very thankful for this special opportunity that broadened our own horizon and offered us very detailed and exciting glimpses into the culture, politics, society and everyday life in India, a country that turns out to be even more diverse and fascinating than most of us would have imagined before.

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