So imagine this job interview scenario. I had just flown 12 hours from Barcelona through Qatar to arrive in Bangalore in the middle of the night. The first day of my interview was perfect, the other execs and team members are gracious, warm and very funny. The company is poised to grow…in a smart way. The hours spent interviewing were great and it seems like my career goals are in line with the needs of the company…hooray! The CEO informed me that the next day I would have my final interview with the chairman of the parent company. Well, the next day arrived, I spent 45 minutes learning even more great things about the company and at the end of the interview we talked about a possible compensation package.
Great, right? Not so fast!
When the CEO (who obviously is now my fabulous boss, Guru) came into the room to sit with us and hear what we had discussed I was so sure the job was mine that I was already glowing. Well, what came next was a shock to my system. The chairman started going over some of the simple items from the “proposed” compensation package like moving expenses. So when he said, “We discussed that the company would pay up to XX number of dollars for Angela’s relocation expenses”…I was shocked when Guru started shaking his head NO. Well, it wasn’t quite a NO exactly but it wasn’t a yes, that’s for sure. Then detail after detail of my package was brought up, and detail after detail was met time and again with a … BIG …. FAT…. NO!!!! Crap!! I was going down. There was no way I was getting the job if we were so far off on the compensation package, and what a pity after travelling so far and having such a good “this is destiny feeling” since the first phone interview.
Then out of the blue, after the chairman read the final line item on the list, and Guru nodded a sort of NO to the last item, Guru smiled and said “OK, sounds good!” HAHAHAHA. WHAT??? What the hell just happened? Seriously?? That was the craziest thing ever. I never saw one single up-and-down-yes-nod YES. Not one. So how was he smiling now?
Welcome to the wonderful world of the Indian head bob. Guru wasn’t nodding no, he was head bobbing. This is the most common gesture I have seen so far here in India, which doesn’t necessarily mean yes and doesn’t necessarily mean no. But sometimes can mean yes, and sometimes can mean no. hahaha Seriously, what do I do with that?? Well, when in Rome…. Today I did my very first spontaneous head bob in the car on the way to work!! Hehe, si si!! Can’t remember what it was for but I will always remember that as my first head bob.
Check out this FABULOUS VIDEO on Indian Headshakes and what they mean!
I stole this from Yahoo! Answers because the explanation is perfect: “the head bob is ubiquitous and covers a wider range of situations. It seems to generally be a form of acknowledgement. Ask for the bill at a restaurant, head bob from waiter. Ask for the price of an item at a market, head bob from clerk as they state the price. Ask an auto driver for a route, head bob again. It sometimes stands for “thank you”, sometimes for “I heard you”, and sometimes seems to happen simply because south Indians learn the head bob from birth and can’t help it.”
Whatcha wanna bet the head bob lands me into more funny misunderstandings soon?
XOXO from Bangalore
© Angela Carson, Angela’s Adventures in Bangalore blog and photos, 2011