Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Global "Gyaan" from the Global Citizen

Clicked by me, Barcelona, Summer 2010
I flaunt my "wanderer" status. Like all the time. Although I am not the most well travelled person I know of.... 15+ countries, 3 continents, 50+ cities, I have known better scores. But I can easily say that I am " better travelled" than most people I meet. But as one teenager recently told me, it is not the traveling, really, that makes one a global citizen. It is the attitude. Maybe. Traveling certainly enhances it. And I have no idea why auto-correct keeps asking me say traveling instead of travelling. Darn this american engish :P

There are only 2 kinds of people in the world. Those that are global citizens and those that are not. So what is the hype all about? It is simple, when you are brought up in a certain way, in a certain city, country and continent, you have notions, characteristics, culture and opinions which are influenced in a big way by that background. It is inevitable, even for global citizens. The difference with the global guys is that they can look beyond it. Be a less judging person. Not be governed by localized thoughts. Understand and relate to someone across the world. Who might be of a weird color. Speaking a weird language. Wearing weird clothes. Eating weird food. Behaving in a weird way. In the global world, there is no weird. Because you have seen so much weird, that weird stops being weird. Because in the global world, you understand that where you come from is the weirdest of them all. And you are comfortable with it.

The problem is, everyone thinks they are global. It is almost like how everyone thinks they are not judging. A friend recently told me she is not judging. And I asked her what she would think about a girl having a relationship with 2 guys simultaneously. Or of nude beaches. Whether she would relate to threesomes. Or orgies. And she reconsidered her "non judging" opinion. Saying you are not "judging" is a relative thing. Like being global. It has degrees. But like everything else in life, if you clear a certain basic level, you will feel comfortable with the fraternity. 

There are, of course the fakes. I have been bumping across a lot of those fake NRIs back home, people who have never stepped out of the country, or stepped out on that one stand-alone vacation/business trip (usually to Nepal), yet consider themselves an expert on global culture.  But they snicker at racist remarks, have notions about continental food (the real one, not the fancy continental restaurant in your local mall), and cannot understand most foreign accents. They do not know there is no language called "chinese", cannot tell you what caviar is made of and do not know that Montenegro is a country. Sorry, I will not call you global just because you watch CNN.

When you are a global citizen, you have a problem with people who want to stick to their stereotypes. Of course, I feel more comfortable with Indian people too, but I don't limit my friend circle to them. Some people I know give me the impression that they are working in a global work environment only because they are forced to. For heavens sake, broaden your horizons, stop being a "frog-in-the-well". Look around you. Learn. Grow. Mix. Try having a steak for a change. Or fajitas. Or tapas. Ask your Nigerian colleague about the language they speak and your Romanian friend the food they eat. Date a Turkish girl. Have some beer with the Irish guy. Dance with the American couple. 

Or if nothing works.. do this...

Clicked by me, Parc Guell, Barcelona, May 2010

And if you have not had the chance to socialize with anyone outside your country. Then I have only one piece of advice for you. Travel.

Be a global citizen. Break your local mould. You will discover how "Indian" or "British" or "American" you really are when you associate with others who are not like you. It will open your mind to bigger and better things. And you will stop worrying about the smaller insignificant things in life.

And yes, the teenager was right, it IS all about the attitude, so get that straightened out first!

P.S. I know that the official definition of the term Global Citizenship is quite different.... but you know what I mean don't you ;) 


  1. You are one of the "most travelled" persons I know.

    You complain about American English and still use that to spell the word 'colour'. Interesting :)

  2. You completely resonate my thoughts on this need to explore new countries, meet people and revel in each other's culture. I recently got a chance to go to Shanghai and work in a team where there was one person from US, one from Thailand, one from Indonesia, one from China and one from India (me)- whenever we went out, there were such great conversations! There is so much to explore in the world. I WANT TO TRAVEL (more)!! :)

    P.S: The food is to die for!!

  3. @ Neha. We all get Americanized to an extent I guess, but living in Europe and interacting with a lot of British folks keeps the traditional English alive to an extent

    @S. Most of my professional meetings are like that, more than 5 nationalities in a room, and the conversations are always interesting!! :P. You SHOULD travel more!