India is an amazing place with diverse environments and dialects and a peculiar and strong culture. A lot of the aspects of the Indian life may barely show to the tourists passing by, but living and working several months in a rural location will definitely pull you inside the reality of the Indian world.
Sometimes you may have to cope with behaviors that can appear senseless to the eye of a foreigner. Even more, your actions will be observed and judged on the basis of the beliefs of the local people you work with, so it is important that you constantly observe and shape your attitude in order not to create uncomfortable situations.
One of the biggest challenges I faced during my internship was to host a local family in our house for about two weeks. As is in other cultures, hosting duties are particularly important in India. In fact guests are sacred and treated with a respect and reverence that could appear exaggerated to the eye of a westerner. For instance, water and food have to be given to the guests and just when they are finished with their meal the hosting family can start to eat. This and other habits are common practice and it has been a surprise for us to realize that being on the other side, our guests were expecting us to act in such a way.
I believe that if you want to come and work in this environment you have to keep your mind open and be ready to be challenged. India has quite a conservative culture and for instance, some attitudes that are considered acceptable in the west side of the world are banned here. Public smoking, drinking or dressing inappropriately are taken quite seriously and there is not much someone can do apart from trying to give the best image of him/herself and therefore of the organization.
Being ready to change your point of view and not pushing your thoughts on other people lives, this I believe is the key of adaptation. If you are ready to do so you will have a great experience, your life will change and you will be empowered to work in the most effective way and achieve the best for your project.
Fun Club Project Manager