Ecosystem of the Train

Posted by Kate Strathmann • Thursday, July 1. 2010 • Category: Crossing Cultures
I recently found myself on a cross-country, East to Left coast, train adventure on Amtrak, the national railway company in the United States. We were a group of twenty like-minded artists, journeying to a conference together and intent on spending three days talking, ideating, and drinking whiskey together. Amtrak is the transportation of Amish families who eschew automobiles, elderly couples, and young vagabonds; there’s a curiosity surrounding train travel in the United States. How quaint and old fashioned (!), we think. One of my artist companions fully expected chandeliers and an elegant service in the dining car for dinner and was disappointed when Tony, the waiter, shouted the dessert options to the entire car en-masse between off-key snippets of Elvis tunes. It was a disappointing and high-priced meal, with an atmosphere only notable for its similarity to crass and cheap small-town diners. (I should note that seven of us, gratefully not including myself, fell ill after this meal; apparently a lack of sanitation standards for train food is an international phenomenon).

Copyright © Knowledge Must

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Getting to Know Delhi's Multiple Faces

Posted by Peter Beland • Saturday, May 29. 2010 • Category: Crossing Cultures
"Medieval mayhem, opulent metropolis, stately maiden aunt: give it a chance, and this unruly capital will capture your heart. Yes, it's crowded, aggravating, polluted, extreme, and hectic, but hey - nobody's perfect."
- Lonely Planet India, 13th edition

These were some of the first words I read about Delhi. A city officially of 15 million inhabitants, but in reality more like 20 million. A city of djinns and city of dreams for the capital's millions of migrant workers. Mega malls and glittery condos take root next to fields of marigolds where sari-clad farmers lay out their produce on nearby roadsides, hoping to attract Delhi's middle-class suburbanites on their way home from work. One of the world's most polluted cities, it boasts more parks than most Western capitals.

© Photo by Knowledge Must

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Living in India as a Western Woman

Posted by Esther Motullo • Monday, May 10. 2010 • Category: Crossing Cultures
I came as a woman to India, my choice of destination for fulfilling the next endeavors…

… and guess what, I’m still in India and believe or not: I am still a woman!

What is it like to be a woman from Germany living in India? What a simple and complex question at the same time! Let’s begin with the daily routine, pulling the bicycle out of the garage, preparing for the regular ride to work. This seemingly not worth mentioning act is today welcomed by a burst into heart full laughter of the by now well-known neighbor. Shortly after he asks in Hindi at least for the third time, what in the world I’m up to. Despite all the attempts of the most obvious explanations, ranging from the enjoyment of riding a bike, exploring the new city, saving money, looking for an exercise - to mention a few - he still seems to bang his head on what to make of this shockingly awkward picture. I will come across this almost paradigmatic reaction several times more on my way to work. I don’t mind, not the least, because it adds a significant amount of entertainment to my daily routine. I am grinning over some of the ones out there, bumping into each other or on good days crashing into street lights while staring towards the cycle lane.

© by Biswarup Ganguly

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Immersed: What’s Going On?

Posted by Benjamin R. Weiss • Monday, April 19. 2010 • Category: Crossing Cultures
An alto saxophone squeals, then quickly fades away. Soft strums on a guitar creep in, backed by gentle taps on a snare drum. I can’t help but bob my head. And then a mellow voice croons: “What’s going on? Oh, what’s going on?”

Marvin Gaye’s provocative query has wracked my brain since the moment I left home and set down roots in this unfamiliar land.

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Hindustani Language - The Key to Immersion in Indian Culture

Posted by Peter Braun • Sunday, April 4. 2010 • Category: Crossing Cultures
Since 2002 Shammi Kapoor (age 33) is working as a Hindustani language teacher in New Delhi. Besides being a brilliant trainer, he is a fantastic communicator, who loves sharing his cultural knowledge with his students and wants to get them in touch with the local people. He talked to us about his passion to teach, the importance to study the local language and his experiences working with language students from all over the world. If you ever thought about learning Hindustani / Hindi / Urdu, Shammis point of view will surely be an interesting read for you.

© Knowledge Must 2010

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Immersed - Leave a Message

Posted by Benjamin R. Weiss • Tuesday, March 16. 2010 • Category: Crossing Cultures
In those days, I still thought I could keep my shoes clean—a fool’s errand, I quickly realized, and a concern that, like many others, I’ve put to bed since setting down roots in Delhi two months ago. I was standing my new pair of spotless blue Nikes on the dusty, crumbling asphalt outside a mobile phone shop in Delhi’s bustling Lajpat Nagar Central Market. Leaning against the cold concrete frame of a vacant storefront, I tapped the keys on my new mobile phone, sampling a dozen or so ragas and Bollywood-inflected tunes in search of a fitting ringtone.

Did he leave a message?

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