Since my first day at NOW Money I have felt like the odd one out, and I’ve absolutely loved it.
Belonging to an Indian community I’ve always worked with Asian bosses, which never brought me truly out of my comfort zone. But when I joined NOW, I was just one Indian amongst seven European expats.
It took me few days to get familiar with the surroundings, the people, and their way of speaking. They use words which are not often heard in my community like “reckon”, “mate”, “bizarre” and “cheers” at the end of a conversation. They are my favourite words now.
They even created a short name for me – “V”, I love it!
We’re a small team and sit together for lunch every day; we never run out of topics to talk about. They discuss what it’s like in the UK, Poland and Russia and I explain how that differs from India. We’ve discovered that our cultures and traditions are poles apart. In fact, some discoveries have led to great laughter…
Here are some of my favourite differences that we’ve discovered so far.
Rain vs. sun
Being a resident of Dubai staying away from the heat has never been an option, much to my dismay. My excitement always increases towards the end of year as the temperature drops and the fog and rain cover the city’s tall buildings. My European colleagues can’t understand my love of the colder climate as they absolutely love the bright, warm sun which is a large part of the reason they moved to Dubai!
Diwali vs. Christmas
One thing that we all have in common is our love for a party! So, I decided to show them how to celebrate Diwali and they taught me about Christmas. It was our first time celebrating each other’s occasions, which made it really exciting! For Diwali we all dressed in traditional Indian outfits, ate a lot of food and played some traditional games. It was such a joy to organise the event for the team and teach them about my culture.
On the other hand, as Christmas came closer we celebrated with crackers, followed the tradition of wearing the funny paper hats, exchanged Secret Santa gifts and played festive games. It was so much fun and by the end of the day I knew all about Santa, Rudolph and charades (wow, it gets noisy!).
Three day vs. one day wedding
I can’t even count the number of discussions we have had about weddings. I have learnt that usually English weddings are a one day event, whist most Indian weddings are three day extravaganza days filled with rituals, functions and loud music! My team is always ready to lend ears when I talk about my upcoming family weddings. It’s one of our favourite topics we then compare between the two traditions!
Tiffin vs. tiffin
The word tiffin is a most commonly used amongst the Indian community in reference to a lunchbox. So, one day over lunch, I told my colleague “wait for me, let me grab my tiffin”. As soon as I told her she had a big smile on her face. I returned with my lunch box she asked “where’s the tiffin?”. I showed her my lunch box. She stared at me and with a confused look on her face and asked “that’s a tiffin?”.
I soon found out tiffin in the UK referred to an extremely chocolatey and delicious dessert. No wonder she was so disappointed with my lunchbox!
Gulab Jamun vs. wet tennis balls
Gulab Jamun is a very well-known Indian dessert made up of powdered milk kneaded and moulded into balls, fried and dropped into simmering sugar syrup, and is served hot during most traditional events. It’s very well known amongst my team as “wet sugary tennis balls”!
Dahi puri vs. hollow ball with toppings
Dahi Puri is a popular evening snack, which, despite now being one of their favourite savoury Indian snacks, has also become known as “a hollow ball with some yogurt and pomegranate”.
Every day over lunch, the team discuss the different ingredients in each other’s salads to gain inspiration. Then they turn to me and ask, “What have you got there, V?”, I can tell you it’s never a salad!
I remember very clearly they day they tried my mum’s handmade Indian paratha for the first time!
In spite of all these differences in cultures, traditions, beliefs and food etc., I feel grateful to be surrounded by such amazing people. Everyone is so adaptable and open to learning, teaching and helping each other out, which is all fundamental to start-up life! I’m so proud to be the odd one out, and, as they say, variety is the spice of life!