Mediating the Global: Expatria's Forms and Consequences in Kathmandu

By Heather Hindman | Go to book overview

5 Saving Business from Culture:
Cross-Cultural Training and Multicultural Performances

TO UNDERSTAND THE AMBIVALENT ROLE that culture and difference plays in the world of overseas employees living in Kathmandu, I want to return to the Antigone Hotel and look at one of Alan’s coworkers who had a different experience of being in Nepal than any of his compatriots. John was one of the quietest members of the group; he did not share their military experience nor their tenures abroad, but was valued as a member of the group for his local knowledge. It was not his telecommunication expertise that was central to their conversation but his perceived comprehension of Nepal—of Kathmandu’s horrible traffic, the strange outfits and customs seen on the drives across town. On this particular night, John was responsible for deciding what was for dinner. He was asked to interpret the menu, as several members of the group had grown tired of the limited choices on the first page, which was mainly Western food. It was hoped that John could guide them through the other options and suggest what to order. The impression of his expertise on all things local was something he tried to reject, but it was foisted on him again and again because he was Indian-American.

It was only after everyone else had left that John began telling his story of a difficult three months in Kathmandu and his frustration with being posted to Nepal. John had been born in South India but had left at a young age to move to Canada with his family. After school and a few years at university in Toronto, John was offered a job with a technology company that required a move to the United States. His wife was reluctant, but John was eager for both the adventure and substantial salary. John had worked for the company for nearly ten years when they asked him to make this trip to Nepal. His company was rarely involved in international work, but had been asked by an

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