West and East: Lunch and Dinner

ImageThis excerpt is adapted from Devdutt Pattanaik’s book Business Sutra: An Indian Approach to Management.

Steve wanted to enter into a joint venture with an Indian company. So Rahul decided to take him out to lunch. They went to a very famous hotel in New York, which served a four-course meal: soup, salad, the main course, followed by dessert. There was cutlery on the table, such as spoons, forks, knives, to eat each dish.

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In the evening, Rahul took him to an Indian restaurant where a thali was served. All items were served simultaneously, the sweet, the sour, the rice, the roti, the crispy papad, the spicy pickles. Everyone had to eat by hand, though spoons were provided for those who were embarrassed to do so or not be too adventurous. Rahul then told Steve, “Lunch is like the West, organized and controlled by the chef. Dinner is like India, totally customized by the customer. You can mix and match and eat whatever you wish in any order you like. The joint venture will be a union of two very different cultures. They will never be equal. They will always be unique. Are you ready for it? Or do you want to wait till one changes his beliefs and customs for the benefit of the other?”

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