Language and Culture

The Volunteer Program at Chandigarh has been suspended indefinitely. Please see HERE for more information.

Hindi is the main language of communication and it is a very good idea to learn some. Most Rock Garden staff do not speak English, though some do. Rock Garden staff originate from many parts of India and often speak Hindi as a second or third language. In general, they are patient and good communicators with words or gesture.

There are many Hindi language-learning publications, though for volunteers the Hindi in Three Months (Hugo), by Mark Allerton, may be most useful. In Chandigarh many books are available, including Learn Hindi in 30 Days, optimistic but useful and only Rs 30. Hindi is a subject-object-verb language, like Japanese.

Nek Chand was the living soul of the Rock Garden. Respect is due to him because of his achievements, his status, and the official honours he received in his lifetime. In English he should be referred to as Mr Chand – there are other correct and more polite terms in Hindi.

Nek Chand with Shifa, NCF Chandigarh Officer, and volunteer from Canada, March 2012

In general, in Indian society, relationships are more important than tasks and good work is achieved through good relationships. Social interactions are relatively relaxed and friendly, but courtesy and manners are very important at all levels of society. Punctuality is a bonus rather than an expectation and deadlines are less important than friendliness.
Western visitors may seem impatient, abrupt and neglectful of courtesies. This is something to be aware of while working at the Rock Garden.
Indian society, in public, tends to defer to men and to older people more than in Western societies. This is also something to be aware of. On the other hand, visitors, especially Western visitors, are automatically awarded privileged status. This is also something to be aware of while working at the Rock Garden. Every worker there should be treated with respect and courtesy; none of the workers are servants of the volunteers, and any help they give you is voluntary and deserves thanks.

Volunteer (left) waiting with Laukram to meet Nek Chand,
outside Nek Chand’s office (chai to follow shortly) March 2012

Daily Life
As an ambassador of the Nek Chand Foundation, behave accordingly. Be patient and in times of frustration remember you are at the Rock Garden to work and not a customer at a resort. Good communication is important with both Rock Garden staff and fellow volunteers. Do not assume that your personal preferences for work, working hours, eating, sleeping, waking, dressing, and other habits are known to others. Sensitivity and sharing are essential. Volunteering is a wonderful opportunity to work and live closely with others.

Valuable items should be kept secure. As well as protecting your goods, theft can have very serious consequences for Indians suspected of it. Do not provide temptation for people significantly less wealthy than yourself.
Conserve water and electricity – these are expensive and limited resources.

NCF volunteers meet the youth of India

Practical Considerations --- >