This article is answering a question that was published in Quora: What is the general perception about India and Indians, before and after a visit to India?
Many years before I first came to India, I met many Indians under different circumstances.
The first time I met Indians was in my work as Engineer in the semiconductor industry. I worked at an international company, one of the world's largest manufacturers of equipment for this industry.
As part of my work, I spent a year and a half in Taiwan and after returning to Israel, I continued flying many times to East Asian countries.
The company needed more engineers to support its customers mainly in Taiwan and therefore recruited more engineers from a recruitment center in India. Indian engineers, as opposed to Israelis, were willing to spend months on customer sites without going home.
My first meetings with Indians, naturally, were meetings with people from my field of work, engineers and managers, some of them very senior. My personal acquaintance was with the engineers. I did not know the senior managers personally, but the impression was that they were very similar to the American managers. It was an indirect and superficial impression.
After that, I lived for a while in Thailand for a business and then I met Indians who had business in Thailand, mainly restaurants. Some of them had their restaurant nearby so a friendship was formed.
In addition, I lived in California for a few months and then I met other Indians, both from semiconductors and doctors in one of the hospitals in the bay area.
After years of meetings with Indians, I visited India for the first time in Mumbai for business purposes. After that, I had a few more business trips and then a big trip to Himachal Pradesh with my family.
I think I have a very good perspective to answer this question: What is the general perception about India and Indians around the world, before and after people visit in India?
Before visiting India
Many years ago, when I was a child and on television there were very few programs and movies but there was one series which I remember well: "Elephant Boy". I was thrilled by Tumai, the Elephant Boy, who could ride on Elephant and help everyone in the village. Another well-remembered series was "Around the world in 80 days".
These are my visual "memories" from India so India was a very distant country, closed for Israelis, hostile, very mysterious, with elephants, skinny people, very colorful country, a lot of rural area and Krishna, Krishna from the Hippies who used to sing Hari Rama.
A collection of associations that created a mysterious and romantic image of India.
Over the years, I accumulated more and more knowledge, India was opening, and than there were meetings with Indians.
India has almost 1.3 billion people and I met a few people. Of course, my impression is very subjective, but it is also very consistent. The same impression did not change when I met with other Indians.
The people I met were always very gentle, decent and very friendly.
The engineers were industrious, they always did the work, they could be trusted. I really enjoyed working with Indians, to this very day, when it happens.
Indian engineers were less spoiled than Israelis and were willing to spend more time on client sites, which gave them an edge and was a good enough reason to recruit Indian engineers.
This advantage was balanced by something else. Among the Israelis, it was known that an Indian engineer who was married, was very likely that he would not return from the wedding, but would "disappear" :) but no one is perfect ...
In Israel, there were very few Indian restaurants and there are still quite a few today. For some reason, there are not many Indian restaurants in Israel. I was introduced to Indian food mainly when I started to travel to East Asia.
It was a first-taste love. Indian food was my favorite food. Very nutritious, very spicy and hot, as I like.
History and culture
Unfortunately, I knew only the history and culture of the Christian countries in the West and of course my own people and country history. I had almost no knowledge of the history and cultures of East Asia, including that of India.
A place to visit
India was not the first choice for me, not a second. It was just a natural result of being unfamiliar with India. And since I did not know, I also did not have specific plans to visit India, although, in the 1990s, when India began to open up to the world and also allowed Israelis to enter, India became an attractive tourist destination for Israelis looking for something else.
After the visit to India
Has anything changed in relation to the initial impression? Well, India hits you hard. The quantities of people, the smells, the colors, the size of the towns, the slums, the living in the streets alongside the great wealth.
Those who arrive with a narrow mindset, critical and arrogant, will not feel the heart of India and may I say, no other place they are visiting. They won't be influenced by the power of India and it doesn't necessarily mean that you should become Hindu but definitely have a deeper understanding of India.
The worship of the gods can also be seen as something that incites internal resistance for someone who grew up in a monotheistic religion, even if he is not religious.
The way to enjoy India is through a kind of personal cleanliness. You have to shed your critical, cynical, arrogant, and completely open, ready to absorb, to see, to learn. This is really the only way to enjoy India.
And that's also what's beautiful about visiting India. As if India were demanding that you change to be able to contain it.
I believe that this is how I came to India. Very open to see, listen, absorb and I think that's also why my impression of India has not changed after the visit. The opposite.
I know people who visited India one time, who says, "I'm not going to India anymore" or "I'm not coming back to India anymore."
I am. I think they're losing something very big.
I will return to India. There is so much to see and learn.
So was the impression changed after the visit to India?
Yes of course. I want to go back there. We want to be in India again. To see more areas of India, to learn more about its culture. To enjoy the people, the landscape and the food.
Of course, on a visit to India, I was exposed to a lot of people, in hotels, in the streets, in restaurants, at work.
The experience was always good. Very nice people who want to help you, who are happy to see you as a tourist visiting India, smiling at you.
It was a great experience that left a good taste and a desire to return to visit India again.
This of course only get better :) In India I could only eat Indian food, without a break. Here, too, nothing in my impression before or after the visit to India has changed. I loved the street food before and when I was in India I loved even more.
I also became much more aware of the dangers of indigestion that could ruin an entire trip to India, so no matter what the gastronomic temptation was, I was careful to follow all sorts of rules I set for myself.
The markets in India and the street food are amazing, but those whose belly is not used to Indian food from an early age are not advised to take risks.
History and culture
It was a very big change for me. The visit to India prompted me to read, study and dive into the history and culture of India. I have been exposed to the long History of India, to the various gods, to Hindu mythology and main literature, to the philosophy underlying faith in so many gods and so many more aspects of India.
A place to visit
Since in recent years I have been very busy with East Asian cultures and India is one of the pillars of East Asian cultures, I have no doubt that I will come back to India many more times to deepen my acquaintance with Indians and Indian culture.
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