Mexico’s cultural wealth has always played an important role in its social and economic spheres. More recently, in a reverse trend, a spurt in its various economic sectors has further expanded the cultural base in cities like Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey, Cancun and Queretaro to include a growing number of Indians.
If one were to discount the many tiny details that make every community its own self, for anyone from India, Mexico would feel instantly familiar. Despite being separated by oceans, the two communities are very similar in the way they are fabricated into an intricate whole – having similarities of geography, culture and civilization, and values and mindset.
Bright and beautiful
Around the time when there is an abundance of bright marigolds in Mexico to celebrate Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), Indians are gearing up for their festival called Diwali, which also embraces marigolds as an integral part of decorations and offerings for the deities. Vibrant colors are a part of both communities – right from celebrations and festivities, clothing, handicrafts, and even the colorfully painted brick and mortar homes of their people. There is an element of uniqueness even in the indigenous, and life is far from dull or boring when one is in Mexico or India.
Both communities are collectivistic, with Mexicans and Indians largely depending on a close-knit family structure, shaped by the inherent culture. The term family is often “extended” to include uncles and aunts, cousins and grandparents. Even friends and neighbors are regarded akin to family members. Mexico and India are equally known for their gracious hospitality, and a general disposition to be helpful, even if it requires going out of one’s way. It’s not just the mental constitution of the people that is similar, but there is also a certain degree of physical resemblance shared by some.
Variety and spice
There is a great deal of similarity between Mexican and Indian cuisines, which runs across the variety of spices and condiments used for cooking, the method of preparation, as well as the basic tools and utensils used for preparing the meals. Chile, tamarind, curry powder, cumin, turmeric, sesame seeds, and a variety of fruits and vegetables are native to both societies. While spicy is considered inherent to Indian food, the Mexican dishes also offer different levels of spiciness, through a range of salsas present in Indian cuisine in the form of chutneys. The thin, flat bread called tortilla, which accompanies every Mexican meal, has its counterpart in the form of roti/chappati in India. Rice dishes are popular in both countries, as is corn and legumes, and mangoes and litchis. A lot of similarity also exists when it comes to sweets and candies consumed in Mexico and India. Tamarind candies are popular in both countries, so are peanut bars called palanquetas de cacahuate in Mexico, and chikkis in India. Dulce de leche, which is popular in Mexico, is similar to the Indian pedas or barfis. Coconut sweets are equally popular in both countries. Arroz con leche – the Mexican rice and milk dessert is the Indian version of kheer. Street food is considered a specialty, and equally loved in both countries.
Boundaries of time
An invitation for 6 p.m. can easily translate to 7:30 p.m. and onward in the both cultures, unless it’s strictly specified. To put it politely, punctuality is often not the strongest point for a vast majority of Mexicans as well as the Indians. Then again, they are never in a great hurry to call it a day either. Their prolonged goodbyes, which tend to linger even outside the main door, is for the neighborhood to overhear. A simple “yes” “no” answer can sometimes take the long and winding road, as both communities enjoy long conversations — even with a complete stranger.
Mexico and India both boast of a rich cultural and architectural heritage, acknowledging a robust indigenous past. The monuments and pyramids of Mexico are just as awe-inspiring with great attention to detail, as the many monuments, caves and temples of India. They both lure people from other countries on the basis of their art and architecture.
These are just some examples of the commonality shared by India and Mexico. Even without sharing a common history, the Indian community can easily assimilate into the Mexican life, and feel at home in more ways than one. At the same time, they will bring their values, their relevant experience and unique perspective to enrich the local culture and add to the nation’s productive capacity.
Both countries are emerging economies with similar priorities and limitations, and with the increasing collaboration between the two communities, the horizon looks promising.