Friday, December 4, 2009

East versus West?

Despite my Indonesian (Sundanese to be exact) roots, the first weeks in Indonesia have mostly made me aware of my infinite Dutchness. I eat rice for lunch, but really need bread for breakfast. I'm pretty laid back when it comes to timing, but if people don't show up for an appointment, I am agitated the rest of the day. With amazement I look at friends that discuss designing and printing 10.000 pamphlets to be distributed all over Indonesia. Before when? Oh, a week from today. Say what?! In the Netherlands we would have packed our bags and gone home (even though distribution "all over" the Netherlands is a whole lot easier). An endeavor like that within such a time frame is bound to fail. Well, not in Indonesia. Here, almost anything is possible. If you just push and shove on the right sides.

This TED India talk by Devdutt Pattanaik talks about these differences of perception. He describes an inherently different way of living. Neither way is good or bad; we just need to realize we have different set of myths we refer to.

Devdutt Pattanaik: East vs. West -- the myths that mystify | Video on

1 comment:

Tommy said...

I watched the TED video, and it was highly entertaining ! Maybe you could run a weekly "TED videos of the week" ? :-)

Being late at an appointment conveys a lack of respect in Netherlands, but it is probably not that big a deal in many different cultures. The concept of being "on time" is already much more fuzzy in Spain or France.

Concerning the business side of things (as in "printing and distributing 10.000 pamphlets in a week"), that makes me question how, by always acting solely on the urgency of the moment (what we call "putting out fires"), people can inherently focus on long-term direction and aligning goals with values.

Or is it that "direction", "vision" and "values", as described by westerner thought leaders, are maybe only western constructs, as Devdutt Pattanaik points out in his talk ?

Interesting thoughts to ponder, keep it up !