local population

Television commercials and The common man

Is there a way to sense the pulse of a village, town, city or a country that you are visiting? Where do you go to comprehend the locals, their mind-set and their varied interests? What does a normal household look like in this village, town, city or a country? These are some of the questions that often cross my mind when I travel.

For me visiting a new place not only means sightseeing and ticking a few must do things off my list (yes, that is one of the plans!) but travelling gives you a lot more to look forward to. You have a chance to experience a different way of life!

Visiting a new destination also poses a few challenges like –

  1. Navigating unknown neighbourhoods, which sometimes can be unnerving. I had one such experience when I had booked a room at a hotel in Ambilly, France (it was the most economical that I could find near Geneva). As my main aim was visiting Geneva, I went there only around evening just before sundown. To put it nicely, I was happy that it was just a one night stay!
  2. Battling the local transport woes. On a trip to Kathmandu, Nepal with my sister and a friend we had the ride of our lives while taking in the sights via local transport. More on that in a future post.
  3. Language! Again I come back to France. But I will be honest, it wasn’t as scary an experience as I had imagined. Thanks mainly to my friend Julie, who is French!
  4. Food! It was never such a big issue for me so far in my travels as I pride myself in surviving even on biscuits. But on our trip to Nepal, this friend of mine who is vegetarian had major issues.
  5. Understanding the local customs. You either behave like you are trying to blend in or just stand out as a tourist. Either ways, having an understanding of the local traditions and customs helps. Like while visiting the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, my friend decided to stay out as the temple only allows Hindu’s.

From my personal experience I have come to believe that an understanding of the local culture and its people’s sensitivities make your travels a tad more smooth. But the point here is how do you know these local customs and intricacies of everyday life? I found this answer in a quote I came across in one of my travels. I do not remember the words, but it credited the local television channels of making the travellers aware of this.

I was intrigued by this thought. Can watching local television during your travels really increase your understanding of the locals? I put this idea to test when I travelled to Nepal in 2012. One evening when we had just returned from an early dinner, we browsed local channels. Obviously language was a barrier, but watching news, songs and most importantly commercials was not only entertaining but gave some insights too. Lot of questions were answered about how the local population dressed, how they spent their free time, where they ate, what products were popular, what did the non-touristy spots in Nepal look like! It wasn’t a complete A-Z guide, but knowing a few of these points was helpful in a better know-how of the region and its population.

So it just crossed my mind why not put this to test in India! How do the commercials shown on Indian television portray the local sensitivities to visiting foreigners? Do they give insights into the daily life of the ‘aam aadmi’ (common man)? A few that in my opinion did this are listed below (in no particular order) – 

1. Good things are happening

The Changing mindset – TANISHQ

2. We can be cheeky! Especially with those that rub us the wrong way.

The guide and his guidance – COCA COLA

3. Yes, our men care! And no, this doesn’t mean our women are weak.

Men will be men – ICICI PRUDENTIAL

4. Making the most of what we have.

Stuck in traffic – CADBURY DAIRY MILK SILK

5. Not a blanket rule, but many have specific days.

As Indian as it gets – McDONALDS

6. Of the people, for the people, by the people…. hmmmm!

Proper Parliamentary behavior – THE HINDU

7. We can even sell an air-conditioner to an Eskimo.

The Indian salesman – TATA SKY

8. Our reality

Manhole – CEAT TYRES

9. We still have families that eat together and live together!

The joint family – FEVICOL

10. Our ugly truth.

How can this be ignored? – AAJ TAK

11. Making hay while the sun shines…. and taking shelter when it rains.

Made for every season – CENTURY PLY

12. Yes, love happens in arranged marriages too.

Arranged marriages – CARATLANE.COM

What do you think? – Agree or disagree? Have any other examples to share. Please comment below.