In our first non-travel day, Atul re-iterated and explained it even more: “get on with it.” As the young generation enters the workforce, and takes up almost one third of the Indian population, there is a positive outlook for the future. Also, there is a departure from the older generation’s mentality of accepting Gandhian poverty and fate towards the youth’s perception to go out and work for what you want to achieve. “Get on with it” can be interpreted in many senses, one of which is the future-oriented mindset taking over India, to stop dwelling on the past and present, and to do in the present what you’d like to achieve by the future.
The title of the book was perhaps one of the most important lessons I learned in India and connects to this mentality of moving along in that it reflects the fluidity of Indian society and culture and their ambivalence towards being boxed in to one category or type. It connects to the need of ethnographers to not compare the culture at hand to their own native culture. In a way, Rama Bijapurkar is saying, we (Indians) are like this and that and this, so stop trying to box us into the standards you have set from the countries you have already encountered, accept us as a unique culture which we are, as we are always changing, and get on with it.
Why Indian consumers are so fascinating for marketers and advertisers like us is because they consume products and services in the context of their cultural norms. This would seem blatantly obvious in hindsight, but it’s slightly perplexing for us Americans to see Indian consumers using American products not because they want to be like us, but because they are useful in some way to them. The detachment of brand from product was perhaps even doubly perplexing for us as advertising students, when W+K Delhi related to us how some Indians believed McDonald’s was French because of their French fries. Perhaps we as Americans are too focused on where a product comes from?