"Where do you live?" - Kerala vs USA

In Kerala, when most people ask, "Where do you live?" they are trying to find out the exact location of your home or apartment (address). This is the exact opposite in the US, especially in small talk conversations in the US.

"Where do you live?" - Kerala Style

In Kerala, asking this question is usually meant to nail down or identify an exact location of where someone lives. Most people are really good at asking what I call build questions to manage to find out exactly where the other person lives, and also may connect that location to other friends, family or colleagues in the area.

In my experience as a foreigner, this is not considered rude or inappropriate in Kerala culture. (This may be considered inappropriate in other, more metro parts of India.) In fact, this series of questions has been asked to me so many times, it feels like ordinary small talk. But.....


"Where do you live?" - US American Style

In the US, only vague responses and conversations are acceptable for this question. This holds especially true for meeting strangers or colleagues that we do not know for long or very well. If a stranger or acquaintance or new business partner was to ask this question and then follow up trying to find out the exact address of the person, the person would find the asker to be "too personal," "invading their personal space," or worse yet, "creepy". "Creepy" would be used especially if a man asked a woman these questions or it was asked by strangers on the street. Do not ask this question to your US colleagues in hopes of getting their exact address. The only exception to this is if your colleague and you are sharing rides to work, then, of course, the both of you would exchange home addresses.

Watch the video below for tips on how to ask and answer the question, "Where do you live?"


Authentic Journeys offers an interactive session on small talk, meeting, greeting and body language with American and Western counterparts. Contact us for more information.  


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