Chooran and the Charm… and Hofstede’s D6…

Friday, July 29, 2016

“Women give better Feedback, Sir…” said Subhashis… he paused… turned around and added… “and, Men pay more Tips…”

Subhashis was our waiter at Kangan, the Indian restaurant at the Westin, Hyderabadu, earlier this Thursday evening… I had observed Subhashis and his restaurant brigade going meticulously about the post dinner drill at each of the tables in the restaurant… presenting bills to men… and handing over the feedback forms to women at the tables…

Both the bill and the feedback form came unfailingly along with an assortment of “CHOORAN” (post dinner digestives)… and with a CHARM that would disarm most hideous thoughts that any of their guests at the tables intended to harbour…

Subhashis’ divine expropriation and experience got me thinking… between the ‘chooran’ and the ‘charm’… what works better, and on whom… is the Man at the table, more disquieted about his tummy that would churn through the night… and as such, the sight of the chooran excites him to leave more Tips… or is the Woman enamoured by Subhashis’ charming smile, coupled with the décor and ambience different than her own kitchen where she did not have to step in tonight… which then prompts her to shower the feedback that she does…

And… is there a Gender crumple to the “Chooran and the Charm” theory…? Or are there other cultural dimensions in a fast changing urban landscape of the Hi-Tech city at Hyderabadu… that rule our bill and feedback form behaviours…?

——————–

I thought of diving into Geert Hofstede’s D6 (6 Cultural Dimensions) model… and look at what may prompt the behaviours of the 3D equation here – Subhashis, Smee (Smita – my wife) and I…

Kangan and Hi-Tech city are mere metaphors… symbolic references to a larger Indian urban context, from a PLM (People Like Me) standpoint… and while Smee may not have been there that evening… she metaphorically rules my heart… my soul…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geert_Hofstede 

D1 – Power Distance : All individuals in societies are not equal… period… and according to the Hofstede studies, Hi-Tech city scores 77 on this dimension… making it highly tilted towards a hierarchical presence in the society – particularly who gives more feedback in the society and who gets it more…

This is a no-brainer for all of us who are married, alive, punting or dating as to who is where… look at Smee and I… I get much feedback from my wife – much of the time, VERBAL and VOCAL when we are talking… and VISUAL and WRITTEN (post-its on the fridge) when we are not talking… so, no wonder then, that restaurateurs have mastered this dimension to tap into the right source for their brownie points…

D2 – Individualism : The degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members… Hi-Tech city scores a 46 on this dimension, which is an indicator of an emerging trait of an individualist AND a collectivist society…

I cannot agree with that more… early on in life when Smee and I used to dine out together… we used to fill in the feedback form together… with stars and hope in our eyes that the next time… and the next many times when we take the same table at the same restaurant… our loyalty will be rewarded by the collective good feedback that we gave them…

Not any more… Smee knows I have an opinion – but it does not count… almost 20 years that we are married… now that we have gained the loyalty card, it’s OK that she fills in the form… wow – isn’t this individualist behaviour so symptomatic of the cultural change in the larger society…?

D3 – Masculinity : A high score on this dimension indicates that the society is driven by competition, achievement and success… and a low score implies that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life… Hi-Tech scores 56 here… and thus takes the borderline Masculine tag… yet Masculine enough to prompt Subhashis to shove the bill under my nose… he knows however, that the Math of the tips, will be a function of the English of what Smee writes on the Feedback form… and through the evening, Subhashis and the rest of the brigade ensure that they engage Smee and I in subtle conversations… chipping and chiseling slowly at the fundamentals of D3… so that they bag those Tips…

D4 – Uncertainty Avoidance : How the society deals with an uncertain future… members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and thus create beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these uncertainties… Hi-Tech scores a mere 40 here… a medium / low preference for avoiding uncertainty…

…because every day is an “Acceptance for Imperfection”… rules circumvented and a huge reliance on the “Adjust Maadi” (kindly adjust, please) culture… but nothing beats the expected certainty when Subhashis gets you a cold ‘Naan’… and does a brilliant “Service Recovery”… gets you an hot-off-the-oven ‘Naan’ in the next instance… waives the ‘Naan’ off the bill… and lo and behold – fabulous feedback on food quality from Smee… and terrific tips from I… because both Smee and I are low on ‘Uncertainty Avoidance’ anyway…

D5 – Long Term Orientation (LTO) : Every society maintains links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future… and societies prioritise these two existential goals differently… Hi-Tech scores an intermediate 51 on this dimension…

Perhaps, the most significant inference of all Hofstede’s dimensions… caught between the devil and the deep sea… Smee and I are often at loggerheads… to be generous in our praise in the feedback form – a manifestation of “Annadaata Sukhee Bhava” (may the hand that feeds be praised)… or to be conservative in the changing face of “Atithi Devo Bhava” (Guest is God)… but contrary to a traditional past when one never demanded anything in return (say, Tips) for the hospitality delivered to the Guest (say, the God in this case)… Subhashis, in the present and the future, expects gratuity…

A score of 51… hmmm…

D6 – Indulgence : The extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses, based on the way they were raised… Hi-Tech scores a low of 26 in this dimension… a culture of ‘Restraint’ rather than ‘Indulgence’… higher degree of cynicism and pessimism… controlling the gratification of desires…

Well – while Subhashis sees a fraction of the Hi-Tech city population in his restaurant, what he may also recognise is that the PLM is growing in numbers, if not in percentage terms… what with an EXCLUSIVE GROWTH that urban India has seen in the past… and will continue to see in the future…

While Subhashis works the “CHARM of the CHOORAN” on his guests at Kangan…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

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