Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How the world works

As we are settling in Europe and trying to make sense of the world around us, comparisons with other countries and other mentalities are inevitable. So here is a summary of what A. and I discussed and concluded about the underlying process in making things work:

USA: Things are set up for convenience and practicality. Drive thru (not even "through" as this would not be as efficient), fast food and buffet meals are prime examples of what it means to live in a place where spending time is an inconvenience and people strive to be efficient (and are always keeping the options open). Paperwork and bureaucracy is kept to the minimum and if you are not happy you are welcome to set up a competing business.

Europe: Things work in a certain way because they are meant to work in a certain way. Sometimes this statements is supported by history: it's been done like this for hundreds of years!" And sometimes it is like a dogma that should not be questioned. One consequence is a bigger presence of the State in all matters of civil society, from the public education to strict building code. This includes all business being closed on Sundays, tramways and slow food.

Brazil: Things work on minimum effort. (Of the supplier of the service, of course!) Meaning that there is always an excuse for people to leave work as early as possible. We even joke that Friday is part of the weekend and Monday is the recovery of the weekend. People are proud to not work much and there is usually a "jeitinho" (or way around) to get things done. This means that there is usually an extra form to be filled out anywhere you go, many lines (although this has improved substantially lately) and knowing someone personally is the best way to get things done.

India: Be happy if things work. In India things seem to be done the way that is possible to do things. This makes some amazing things come to life in the least expected occasions (like the perfect cup of chai after being drenched by a monsoon) and also leaves a lot to be desired. Usually the fixes are quick and dirty and most things are not expected to last long. Perhaps this makes people more prone to celebrate smaller accomplishments in life or take time off for social visits (since relatives become an important source of support).

Like living in the ruins at Hampi. It works, doesn't it?

Any other views of the world out there?

1 comment:

  1. In India I would say there is always a way to bend the rules if you even know what the rules are to begin with :-P
    me being European I found that nut at fist, but now I even find irritating how sometimes things will never change in Europe because there is only ONE way of having things done LOL
    But then of course in India you can wait an eternity or two or three to have something as simple as your toilet fixed :)