Indian stores seem to be everywhere in the US. I suppose it has got something to do with the Indians everywhere.
In my entire year of shopping in the store, I have seen just about two locals shopping there. I cannot blame them. There are some legitimate concerns which might bother someone when shopping at the “Friendly” Indian store.
They do not seem friendly. Period.
In fact, they seem rude!
Reason – The illusory rudeness is due to the culture difference. You see, Indians fail to acknowledge superficial emotions, a welcoming smile or greeting. Do not get me wrong, this is not a post ranting about people being superficial or good customer service. It is merely to point out the subtle differences in culture.
It’s about the way we are raised, we don’t smile at people unless we are really happy to see them. I think the reason being, that words carry a lot of significance in Indian culture. (mantras etc, you get the picture!) I remember my mom asking me to be VERY careful of the words that I use. Which meant, no words like, “Kill me” or whatever. It was because there were god and angels looking over us and whenever we utter something, they say ”Thatastu”- Sanskrit for “So be it”. In other words she said they bless everything we say. I do not know if that is true though, but it does show the belief.
A similar ideology by someone whom I don’t remember goes something like this. “Be careful about your thoughts because they form your words. Be careful about your words because they become actions. Be careful about your actions, because they become habits. And habits shape who you are.” (I think it’s by Vivekananda)
Thought process goes something like this. See someone—> Feel happy —> Smile.
When you ask an Indian, “How are you today?”, he will probably blabber about recent incidents in life, instead of just answering it with Good or not so good etc. I had many confusions when I came here because of this. Imagine the plight of the person when I responded to questions like these. Most of us are preconditioned to mean something to actually say it.
In other words, when your Indian grocer looks too rude, he probably does not know he is being rude. He is simply thinking about something else. When he is smiling though, he is probably really happy to see you.