Welcome to Authentic Journeys - ഓതെന്റിക് ജെർനീയ്സ് - US-India Cross-Cultural Training

Authentic Journeys on Facebook
Authentic Journeys on YouTube
Authentic Journeys on LinkedIn
Authentic Journeys on WhatsApp
    Welcome to Authentic Journeys - ഓതെന്റിക് ജെർനീയ്സ് - US-India Cross-Cultural Training

July 5, 2020

Ways Small Talk with US Clients Improves Working Relationships

Are you frustrated with the interactions with your US client or colleague? 

Do you sit in your team in India and wonder why, though you have worked for months or even years with your US counterpart that you still can't seem to break through and handle the challenging conversations?

Do you feel frustrated that while you have 8-15 years experience in the field, your manager has to be called in to handle a wide range of conversations on your behalf? 

Do you wish you had the magic potion to create better client relationships? 

Are you making small talk? Did you know that there are many types of small talk that can be applied to business conversations with US clients?

Are you stuck as to where to start because your client doesn't make small talk- or he or she doesn't make small talk with you? 

Have you ever wondered....

Do I Really Have to Make Small Talk When My Client Doesn’t? 

When your client thinks about you, how would you like to be remembered

Would you like your client to think of you as a person who just gets to the point and has no soft side or a person who can be personable, friendly and be comfortable with a bit of casualness? 

Most Indians I have trained who I have asked this question to prefer to be remembered [in business] as a person who not only gets the job done and done right, but a person who is friendly, understanding, considerate, and thoughtful of others. 

So, if this is how you want to be remembered, especially by your US clients or counterparts who you work with virtually, what can you do to create this feeling and impression? 

In many cases, something as small as "small talk" which really is not so small becomes an easy way to set that tone. Even starting the call or ending the call with a smile (we can hear a smile!) can also go along way to create that impression. 

If thinking about it from a business angle may not convince you, think of it from a personal angle. 

What if you had a friend who always came to your house or called you but only asked you for stuff or updates on what they wanted you to do for them? 

What if they only stopped by to borrow something from you, ask you for your advice or made you feel you had to give them all the answers, yet that friend really did not share any of themselves in return?

How would you feel if that friend created a one way relationship? 

Would it be something you looked forward to? How would you feel when you would have to meet that person everyday? Would you define that interaction as a friendship? Why or why not? 

I have had 'friends' like that in the past. Speaking for myself, it felt odd. After sometime I felt that this person is not my friend. And, soon every interaction would feel strained. But, talking with this person about difficult topics or disagreements would not be easy because I would feel we don't really know each other (from personal experiences, I can say this is exactly how I felt). 

In fact, any situation which felt even remotely challenging would be completely avoided due to the fear of confrontation of any kind. So, even the smallest 'non-issues' would, over time, become big problems that would seem unsolvable or would need help or intervention from a third party.

These types of interactions were never looked forward to, and typically caused a lot of stress. 

While your interactions with your US clients may not have gotten to this level, many I have coached have faced some level of this kind of feeling due to some of the cultural, communication and other misunderstandings that have come up. 

And, while personal relationships, some argue, are different than business relationships, the basic fact remains, they are both human relationships. 

So, what actually constitutes a good 'working relationship?' 

Is a good working relationship one where you log onto the bridge only to hear what the client has to say? Or is it one where you hope the client respects and interacts with you as an equal, a respected authority in your field? I hope the latter. That's why I am here to help you with not only building the relationship with your US client but defining what for you constitutes an ideal working relationship. And, if you, sitting in India (or anywhere offshore) think, "Well, my client has not tried to make that warm relationship with me, why should I? Or, how could I?" That's where I step in to help.

If you are a service provider on a development team in India, you are the trusted authority. The client in the USA expects you to drive the meeting, which includes setting the tone for the relationship.

With many we have coached where the US client doesn't make small talk, we have found that once the Indian team lead or team members started (sometimes slowly) adding in small talk to conversations (both written and spoken), in as little as a month, we see even the most seemingly cold shouldered US client warming up and also making small talk. 

This not only in turn helps the team in India to work more effectively with the US client, but helps all kinds of conversations become more friendly, even those where saying no or pushing back is required. 

I feel a little small talk can go along way to setting a friendly tone. I had a client once who was assigned to me by the manager to learn how to make small talk in emails and phone calls. My client said, “I don’t know why I was asked to improve this when my client doesn’t make small talk with me. Should I really do it?”

Then, in the coaching conversation, I asked two questions:

  1. What prevents you from making small talk?
  2. Does it hurt to try?
In this case, my client said, “I don’t make small talk because I am afraid I may ask the wrong question and offend the client. I also feel that if he starts asking me stuff about the US culture, I won't know what to say. I don't want to have the wrong answer. I don’t think it hurts to try, but my client is very business minded. My American client also doesn’t make small talk.” 

“Fair enough,” I said, “What about if we discuss some dos and don’ts of professional small talk, and you try it?” 

Since my client was bound to do some sessions with me, this was our mutual coaching agreement.

After several sessions on dos and don’ts with practice, I left it to the client for two months to try it on their own. In the three-month follow up, when I asked how it was going, my client said:

“Wow it’s going great! I feel so much more relaxed with my client. It’s like we can have conversations about work, even stressful stuff. I feel so much more at ease. We understand each other better.”

So, what did my client do differently? My client only spent two minutes in the beginning and end of each call making small talk – for a grand total of not more than 5 minutes! When I asked how it went, my client said:

Well, at first I was nervous to make small talk because my client never did it. I just asked a few simple questions like “How are you today?", "How was the commute?" or “How was your weekend?” or “How’s your morning?” depending on when I called and the day of the week or time of day. To end the call, I just would say, “Have a nice day.” or “Have a nice weekend.” If I got brave, I’d ask, “So any plans this weekend?” At first she was shy to talk back. I was shocked as she’s older than me, and English is her only language. But, she did make small talk with me. It set a happier tone for the call. We smiled more.
So, I asked my client, “What do you think about this experience? How do you feel?” My client responded by saying, 
Well, I actually am nervous to say this but I think my client was just as nervous as I was to make small talk! Maybe she could have been worried to say the wrong thing just like me, though she’s older than me! It wasn’t easy for me to break the ice, but I am so glad I did. That little bit makes such a big change! I am shocked but happy. Thank you! 

After this interaction, my client’s customer satisfaction scores improved and my client was able to take on more challenging client roles.

Jennifer Kumar provides cross-cultural business communication and business coaching for global, dispersed teams. Learn more about individual coaching or classroom programs on small talk and meeting management with US counterparts.

Contact Jennifer to learn how she can help your team work with more relatability across cultures. 

Related Posts:

Common Questions to Start Small Talk Conversations
Gap Analysis For Coaching Clients
Speaking Clearly on the Phone 

Updated: April. 2019, July 2020

Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

July 1, 2020

Mistakes US Clients Make on Conference Calls and in Virtual Meetings (With Solutions)

Fixing Problems in Communicating Between the US and IndiaI have provided coaching to over 3,500 professionals in India who work on virtual teams with US American counterparts or clients. Often, I am asked to help [Indian] team members to improve their business acumen and communication skills to perform better on daily status update calls, virtual meetings and presentations. In many cases, many assume the fault lies with the [team in India] because maybe they assume that they are not speaking clearly (their accent is not understood) or they aren't able to understand the US American English accent. While there are cases where the teams in India can upskill, there are areas where the US based team should be working on communicating with more clarity.

So, instead of always blaming yourself for miscommunication when working offshore, take a look at a few of the common problems I have noticed that US American citizens make while on conference calls, and possible ways you can navigate and overcome these situations. (These examples are derived from observing over 100 different types of virtual interactions over the years.) 

Problems and Solutions to Communication Problems in Virtual Calls & Meetings

Problem: Your Client Speaks in a Thick Accent, Uses Slangs or Idioms  
There are a wide variety of accents and uses of language in any country. Be it British English, Canadian English or US English, there are people who grow up in these countries who may not be able to understand all the accents within their own country. It's also true for India, as I have learned! In fact, recently I have learned that in the US some who hail from the southern states attend accent reduction programs to be better understood in the wider US audience. There have also been comedy shows over the years highlighting how some regional accents should be reduced to improve job prospects or understandability, as in this popular tv show

The lesson here is just because we all speak English, it doesn't mean we are all speaking the same language!

Regardless of talking to someone in the same language in our own country or in another country, we should always keep in mind that the speed of our speech, phrases or idioms or other cultural uses of languages may not be understood in the same way (in spoken or written forms). 

Problem: Speaking Too Fast 
We are not asking anyone to speak like a robot, but we are hoping that people can speak at a pace so that people from other areas of the country or world can understand with more clarity. Often there are conference calls with international participants from more than two countries, some of those participants speak English as their first and only language, and some do not. 

Solutions to Apply

We can always take care to speak in a more global way- in a plain version of the language, without many localisms, slangs, or jargon (including technical or professional jargon when talking to someone new to our outside of our industry). We should try to speak slow, but not like a robot. We should learn how to inflect our speech to sound natural and not rehearsed.

If you hear a word you do not know, and do not want to ask directly about the meaning, don't forget to keep listening. Listen to the entire context and then try to respond (even native speakers may not know the meaning to every word they hear) or ask for clarity on that word is not understood by paraphrasing and asking a clarifying question. For example: 

So far I understand that we must continue to handle the tickets as they come in. We have Aseem on the day shift and Dhruv on the evening shift. Is this what is referred to when using the term rota

In fact, these are good conversational exercises you can use to practice when learning and using new vocabulary. I often use this in fluency coaching with good outcomes.

Problem: Speaking in Long, Complex Sentences 
The most complex thing in the world is to simplify things. When one person speaks for longer than 4 or 5 minutes on a call in long, winding sentences (longer than 12-15 words, using filler words or connector words), listeners will tune out and get bored or get tired from listening. Listening is an active activity, and for non-native speakers can be even more taxing. And, on the phone, all we have to go by is voice. With an absence of non-verbal in-person cues, listening can be twice as taxing for your participants on the phone. 

Solutions to Apply
It probably won't be a good idea to ask people to speak in shorter sentences. Firstly, if we take this solution upon ourselves, it could be possibly mirrored by our client over time. But, meanwhile, again the best solution you can apply is careful listening and paraphrasing where you aren't clear.

When people speak in long sentences (or write), the grammar gets confused and the main topics or ideas get muddled in a sea of words. If your US counterpart talks in long sentences or tends to talk for a long time before giving you a chance to speak, have a pad and paper nearby to take notes. Do not write out every single thing he or she says, but write the main word/topic. Then, when it's your turn to talk, reflect back for clarity calling out main points.

This will be especially important IF and WHEN the client is requesting something sharing requirements for a new or ongoing project or sharing some other critical information. Just because someone is a native speaker (of any language) doesn't mean they speak clearly even with other native speakers, let alone a non-native or non-regional speaker. Hence, as the person listening it will be your responsibility to make sense of what they are trying to say. Also, in observing client calls, another thing I have noticed is that some clients continue talking simply because when they have paused to give the India team a chance to respond, the India team is silent. Try to be aware of pauses to insert your thoughts at the appropriate time.

Problem: Not Testing the Equipment or Understanding of Acoustics 
Just recently I overheard a conference call where an English native speaker was speaking on a conference call. To me, it clearly sounded as if she was using a speaker phone that was sitting on a desk, possibly sitting in a room with other people and sitting far from the speakerphone. It sounded as if she were in a tunnel. She did not know how to project her voice properly, and it was hard for international participants to hear. What complicated things is that native speakers from other countries did understand her (maybe they have known each other longer, and understood each other's tones and pitches better), so those who were not non-native speakers could not understand what she asked. 

Problem: Bending into the Call 
When a person doesn't have good posture or breath, they will not sound clear and may speak too fast. I have heard this on quite a few calls, too. Possibly, a person who has not been participating in the call for ten or fifteen minutes has been asked to participate and is now bending into the table speaks. Now they will not sound clear as they are constricting the air in their abdomen or their neck. This will impact clear communication. 

Solutions to Apply 

As we do not have control over our client's technical gadgetry, it will be our responsibility to manage our own gadgetry and our own posture. Possibly, another approach would be to know the ins and out of the technical specifications of the platform we are using. If you are well versed in the digital online platform or phone calling technology, you may be able to provide 'technical support' to your client to assure they are audible or their equipment (such as mic or video) may be working properly.

If not working from the office, it may be tempting to take a call while relaxing on the couch or bed. This will not be a good idea if you need to be heard clearly. Lounging and having bad posture makes your voice not as clear as if you are sitting up straight with a straight neck. If you don't believe me, jump on a call with me and turn off your video. Talk sitting or laying in different positions, most of the time I can tell when you are bending your neck or lounging. It doesn't sound professional, and will sound as if you are casual or not serious.

As we wrap up this article, just keep in mind the if you are blaming yourself for the miscommunication in your global client interactions, it's not always your fault. Though there may be things we can always do to improve our own approach and communication, our clients or colleagues are not perfect either. I hope this article has given you some insight into that as well as some ideas to overcome some of the common problems.

If you work on a global team and face these situations, Jennifer Kumar, the author of this blog, works with your teams on leadership and communication skills across international borders in virtual work environments. Contact her for more information

Related Posts: 
Tips for Webex, Phone or Virtual Presentations 

Original post date - July 1, 2015

Updated - July 1, 2020

June 16, 2020

Convincing & Negotiating Tips with US Counterparts

How can we convince our US clients about project deliverables and change requests?

This is a very common question asked by many teams we have coached in India

If Americans love to save two things, those are time and money. To negotiate and to convince an American is to appeal to their love of saving time, saving money or both!  

Also, the more you know about their business, their end user (customer), and some of the other cultural context, these factors can be used in conjunction with time and financial arguments to not only create a compelling case, but will show your business acumen. 

... Which will build your confidence and trust in your US based clients....

Don't forget to add in tidbits about your technical knowledge as well. Why a certain request can or can't be done. Tie this to your experience on other similar projects and the pros and cons of implementing it or not implementing it.

This is why it's so important for client facing developers to have good soft skills, communication skills and relationship building skills.

... These skills can also be inserted into daily status updates to take your stand up meetings to the next level....

Of course this is not always an easy proposition. While one knows their work well and how to discuss particulars of their work related tasks, many may fail to truly understand how to measure their output through time or financial calculations. This is a skill, and it takes time to master. It is also a way to show initiative to your US counterparts.  
Use arguments about cost savings to negotiate project deliverables
After reviewing this in the sessions, many Indian executives ask, "Well, if this is common in your American culture, that means to you this comes easy. This is not as common in our Indian culture, so we have to practice. It's not easy." 

My answer to this typically is, "That while Americans may grow up hearing this more than Indians might, it is still a learned skill for Americans to master. A lot goes into understanding these calculations, and they do not always easily roll off of one's tongue without many years experience to back them up. What this means is that, yes, even Americans must prepare and practice these skills to perfect them. It depends on the topic of discussion, and the fact and figures always change. So, one must prepare for such meetings well in advance, studying and comparing figures to find the most convincing approach to use." 

Not only does it take a skill in understanding how and where to use these figures, but it takes a skill in small talk and getting to know one's client or customer. The better we know someone (personally or professionally), the easier it is to find the right approach to convince them. Small talk goes along way.  

To justify this argument, just think of those you work with in your office, those you work closely with in your local team (even if you are now working from home in a distributed way)... do you find it easier or more difficult to handle challenging conversations with those you know better locally? Why is that? What do you know about them that you may or may not know about your US counterpart? How can you try to fill in those gaps? 

Interestingly enough, some Indian executives may also consider the tips in this article a form of small talk because it's not directly talking about the task at hand. Rather than talking about getting it done, and sticking to the nuts and bolts of the topic, convincing and negotiating by using figures may not be considered to be directly talking about the matter at hand. Unlike "normal" small talk which has nothing to do with work, this kind of small talk does have to do with work, and it takes time to prepare for.  

How coaching helped my team to communicate more effectively with US Americans

Dr. John Sullivan in the article, Talking Strategically: The 7 Things You Must Master to Succeed, shares this and six other tips in how to convince and negotiate effectively: 
  • Dollars to show impact 
  • Corporate goals focused 
  • Knowing with data 
  • Building a competitive advantage 
  • Being forward-looking 
  • Being customer focused 
  • Emphasizing innovation 
(Tips reprinted from the article.) 

.... Over the last 10 years of doing cross-cultural training in India and coaching US facing teams on this, we have learned.....

All of these tips tie in with all of the suggestions sprinkled throughout this article. And, over the years, what we have noticed in working with teams in India is that these skills do not fall exclusively under "cross-cultural skills anymore." These skills actually fall under consultative skills and leadership skills, which applies to any industry, even domestically where consulting and project management takes place. Where the true cultural skill may come in when working with US clients is in understanding how to build relationships across cultures, understanding the cultural context of the business one is consulting for, and how to use English effectively with US Americans (among others). We have helped many like you to refine your skills through coaching. Get in touch with us for more information

Related Articles:  

Networked blogs link: http://networkedblogs.com/SV3MB
Original post date: 1/14, updated: 6/2020

June 10, 2020

Didi, Akka, Chechi - Terms from Languages of India that Mean Friendship and Respect

While we were in quarantine, I had quite a few American female friends reach out to me asking me,

"Why did the new friend I made online from India call me by didi? What does that mean? Why aren't they calling me by my name?" 

\They were obvioiusly taken aback as they weren't sure what the word meant and why the person did not use their actual name to refer to them. 
Didi, Akka, Chechi in respective Indian Language Scripts
While didi (Hindi) is one translation of this word one could hear from India, as there are a multitude of languages in India, the three I am most familiar with are Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam. The words below are listed in that order - in Hindi, Tamil, and Malayalam script, following by the English transliteration.

Have you made friends from India online or in person? If you are a female, have any of your friends from India called you didi, akka, or chechi?

These three words come from different Indian languages, and tend to be used alone or after your name. Such as "Hi didi...." or "Good night, Jennifer akka...." or "Chechi... did you have your breakfast?" 

As a person who's not from India, you may wonder why your new friends are calling you these terms. I talk about these terms in the video below. Take a listen. The transcript follows.

\Didi, Akka, Chechi - Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam for Elder Sister

Men may also be called the male translations of these words as listed below:

  • didi is jiju
  • akka is anna
  • checi is chettan

What does Didi, Akka, or Chechi Mean?

Transcript of video:
[00:00:01] Didi, Akka and Chechi.

[00:00:05] Didi is Hindi, akka is in Tamil and chechi is in Malayalam, three of the many, many languages of India. And all of these words translate into the same thing in English - elder sister, or older sister. 

I'm Jennifer Kumar from Authentic Journeys, I Bridge The Cultural Gap between India and the U.S. mostly in the workplace, but sometimes in these semi formal and casual environments where you're just trying to make friends and make small talk.

[00:00:39] If you're a female and you are making friends with people from India, whether they be male or female, if you're perceived older than them or they really don't know your name at first or don't feel comfortable pronouncing your name because it's a foreign name, sometimes they'll be calling you by one of these three terminologies or a different term from their mother tongue - that is the language in which their family speaks from the native place they come from in India.

What does "native place" mean?

[00:01:14] Native place is not just a home town, but it's actually where the family originated in India and where their heritage stems from. Similar to my family came from Hungary to the US. So you could say my native place is someplace in Hungary. It's similar to that.

[00:01:36] So, I told you the terminologies, I told you which language each of them are from. But I want to tell you a little bit more about the languages of India, and then I'm going to go back to these three terms again to wrap up the video.

Map of the Languages of South Asia - India

Languages of India

[00:01:52] If you're new to learning about India. India is highly diverse. You could say it's like a Europe in one country, like a whole continent of Europe. Take that and just make Europe a country instead of a continent. Europe right now, as you know, many, many different countries. But, just take Europe and say it's a country, one country, then you can understand what India is. India has.... I forget exactly without looking now, but I think it's like twenty five states. And generally, you could say each state has its own language and own script for that language or a variation of a script from, you know, a more popular language. Now, it is quite possible that the language does not have a script, as well. There are several languages in India that are only spoken languages and are not written languages. So, the Constitution of India actually recognizes about twenty five, I think, languages of India. And you can kind of guesstimate that based on someone's native place, whatever state in India they come from originally their family originally come from, most likely they speak the language of that state. Because each state tends to have a dominant language or a language affiliated with that state. For example, West Bengal, which is in north east India.. that's the state of India. The city that everyone knows or many people know, Calcutta or Kolkata. They speak Bengali. Each of these languages tend to have a different script. Although, sometimes some languages share scripts or share versions of similar scripts, for example, Hindi, which is spoken in most of the states of India, has a lot of dialects. However, the native language or mother tongue of Maharashtra state, where Mumbai and Pune is is a Marathi. Marathi and Hindi have a very similar script. There are a couple of letters that are different. While you might be able to read both of these languages, if you know one script or the other, the vocabulary will be different. It's like being able to read in English and Spanish. The letters are pretty much the same, but you have some differences between the two, obviously. And, also you need to know the vocabulary. So that's the analogy you can make there. So back to the three words on my list, because I only have three. But, like I said, there's like a million languages in India. I'm exaggerating, but there's a lot of languages in India. So, every language would have their own translation of the same term- older sister or elder sister.
Didi in Hindi
Didi in Hindi - Devanagarii Scripti
[00:05:06] Didi D - I - D - I is how I've normally seen it spelled in English letters and this is from Hindi. So this is spoken in most parts of India, especially north India.
Akka as written in Tamil script
Akka as written in Tamil script
[00:05:26] The next one is AKKA, A - K - K - A.

[00:05:32] This is very regional to Tamil Nadu. So if you are in Tamil Nadu, you have a friend whose native place is some place in Tamil Nadu - whether they are in Tamil Nadu or another part of India or the US or any place else in the world, it's probably safe to say that they will call you as Akka.

[Not noted in the video- I think that akka is also used in Telugu to mean "elder sister" and anna is used in Telugu to mean "elder brother."]
Chechi written in Malayalam - one of the many scripts of Inida

Chechi written in Malayalam - one of the many scripts of Inida
[00:05:54] And the last is chechi. Chechi is from Malayalam. Malayalam is spoken in the south western state of Kerala. People from Kerala are known as Keralites or Malayalees.

[00:06:12] Someone from Tamil Nadu would be known as a Tamilian. So, these are the three words. These are where they come from in India. You might have heard other words from other dialects or other languages of India. You can share those in the comments. I'm always interested to learn new, new words, but these are the ones that I've heard the most.

Kerala is the state highlighted in red. Tamil Nadu borders it to the east.
Kerala is the state highlighted in red. Tamil Nadu borders it to the east.

[00:06:33] Keep in mind, again, that when your new friend from India calls you by one of these terms they may or may not use your name with the term if they don't use your name. I know as an American it feels very weird to not have someone call you by your name. I felt the same way initially, but then over time I realized that actually it- it does -it's their way of being close. It's a way of people from India being close to you by calling you by one of these terms.

[00:07:06] And it's not supposed to make you feel distant or far away from that person, but actually make you feel close to that person. So, take it as a sign of respect and that they want to be friends with you and that they like you, not that they don't like you and they want to be distant from you. Because initially, as an American, I kind of was taken aback by these terms. But I've spent two and a half years living in Tamil Nadu and six and a half years living in Kochi in Kerala state, India. So I got used to these terms pretty fast, I guess, and now I really enjoy it. And I feel happy when someone reaches out to me and calls me by one of these terms. So again, I hope this is kind of a really helpful tutorial for you to learn something new about India that you might not have known before. I'm Jennifer Kumar. I mostly work with virtual teams between U.S. and India to help bridge the culture and communication gap through one on one and small group coaching. You can reach me at info at authentic journeys dot info. Thanks for listening.

Note: In smaller towns or more traditional companies, these terms may be used in the office as well. In big cities in Kerala, the ladies who work in the office as assistants or who bring tea are often called "chechi," while men who do similar jobs may more often be called by their name. That's been my experience, and I could be wrong. 

If you'd like to be in touch with us for cross-cultural coaching, click here. We provide India culture training as well as US culture training in addition to other related coaching services to help you find balance when adjusting to a new culture

Related Posts:

Read tips for Expats visiting India - a Brief Cultural Introduction to India with Travel Tips 
Tips for Indians who want to make friends online who are US Citizens
Questions to consider before entering a cross-cultural cross-border marriage
Questions to-be spouses from India should consider before marrying someone in the USA

May 22, 2020

Cycling in Moab - ESL Video Vlog/Podcast

Welcome to our ESL Podcast

Episode 2 of T-shirt Travel Tales

Cycling in Moab

Watch or listen to the video. To see bigger photos of the places and scenes seen in the video, scroll below. Below the video, feel free to follow along with the transcript. But, please try to do that only after you listen once. The first time you listen through any portion, write down the percentage of what you understand. Then listen to that same section and read the transcript below. How much did you actually understand? I think you will understand more than you think you do!! 

The purpose of these podcast videos are to expose you to spoken English as we make conversation in the USA, talking in a casual and informal setting about things we have experienced or like to do. I hope you liked this episode. Check out our first episode about cycling in a rally in St. George, Utah

[00:00:01] Hi, everyone. I'm Jennifer Kumar from Authentic Journeys. In this episode of T-shirt Travel Tales, I want to talk about MOAB. Now, there are a million videos about Moab on YouTube or online in general. This video is a little different because I'm tailoring my discussion toward English as second language learners or ESL learners who want to improve listening comprehension and learning some words or phrases in American English. So, so, I'm not actually in Moab making this video. I am in Utah, the state of Utah, in the US, where Moab is a small town in Utah. But I'm in Salt Lake City as I make this video. Salt Lake City, Utah, and Salt Lake City is about four and a half miles sorry, four and a half hour drive from Moab. And since we moved to Utah in 2017, we have been to MOAB. I don't know, ten, twelve times. So we've been very fortunate to be able to experience MOAB in many different types of climate, many different types of weather, many different times of the year, many different times of the day, even daytime, nighttime. 

Mesa Arch at Night

So, weather would be snow or sun or rain or wind. Oh, we got caught up at the Delicate Arch when it was windy, one year. That was not fun. I'll talk about that in a different video. So in this video, I want to talk about something we both love to do when we go to Moab, which is cycling. That's what my shirt is, cycling. And I'll take a picture of the shirts. You could see it closer.

[00:01:42] But basically the words on the shirt are that that part of the bike. So, for instance, like right here, it says handlebars. His handlebars are here and brake because that's where the handlebars and brake are on the bike.

[00:02:01] Now, throughout the video, when I talk about certain places, I might try to, you know, embed a picture up here somewhere in that part of the video. 

Welcome to Moab, Utah

That's why I'm kind of sitting over to the side. So the picture hopefully will come somewhere over here. So I want to talk about cycling, road cycling in MOAB. Now, you can actually do some mountain biking in Moab if you're into mountain biking. 

Mountain Biking at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

And actually, that's what most people do that ride a bicycle in Moab. They do mountain biking. They go into the desert areas or they go on a Dead Horse Point State Park or some national park and they do some mountain biking. And as you can, you can go to YouTube and search for mountain biking in MOAB. And those videos will blow your mind. Where are they? Mountain biking on sides of cliffs and everything. No, I won't be doing that in this lifetime. I can assure you that. So we actually do some road cycling within the town of Moab. And we've done it along the Colorado River. 

Colorado River Walkway in Moab - A EASY Walk

And we've also done it inside Arches National Park. So I want to talk about that, because some people might wonder, how can you go cycling in Arches National Park? 

Cycling in Arches National Park

Or can I go cycling and Arches National Park? Well, yes, you actually can. We've done it twice in 2019 and 2020. And we have not had any park rangers tell us not to do it or anything or that it's dangerous or anything like that. 

Cycling in Valley of Fire, Nevada

Like we, not we, but my husband did go cycling and Valley of Fire State Park, that's in Nevada. And we were warned by the Rangers to actually not do what they recommended us not to do it because the shoulder of the road is pretty nonexistent.

[00:03:48] So "shoulder of the road," what is that? Like,some countries, they don't have a shoulder of the road. So in the U.S., how we mark our roads, we have like either a double yellow line or like dotted dotted line for passing yellow line in the middle of the road. 

Typical road shoulders in Arches National Park

And then on the sides, we have white lines. So the white where the white line.... and then there might be some more pavement after the white line on the side of the road where cars are not supposed to go, but it could be paved. That's the shoulder. So the shoulder's important because that's where cars have to pull over. "Pull over" that's an idiom -- into the shoulder. If a cop is trying to, you know, pull you over with his lights on or her lights on if to pull over into the shoulder. So some of these state parks and even national parks don't have much of a shoulder on the side of the road. So they suggest that it's not always advisable to go road cycling in these in these parks. But, Arches is a little different. We've seen cyclists in the past. So, we tried to go road cycling in arches. So in 2019 and 2020, we both did that. So. Both my husband and I did that, but we actually didn't do it, like actually together because he started down at the visitor center. Now, anyone who's been to Arches National Park knows that the visitor center is kind of lower down in elevation. And when you go up into the park, when you enter into the park, you actually have to go up kind of the side of a red rock cliff with a lot of switchbacks. And that's probably a good, I don't know, 800 to 1000 feet elevation gain just in that short distance, which I don't know what that is, maybe a mile or two. So, I didn't start at the visitor center because I would never make it up that, you know, up that incline at all or down. I'm a little bit scared to go down it as well. My husband started at the visitors center, went all the way up to the Windows section. So, the Windows section, I'll put a picture of that here, what the windows mean. The windows are a part of Arches National Park that actually have you know, the wind has carved windows, what looks like windows out of the rocks.

Cycling to the Windows

[00:06:07] It's very incredible. You can even hike around it, too. It's pretty nice. So he went from visitor center to Windows. I started a little bit higher up in the park. I started Courthouse. So, I'll put the picture of Courthouse here...me standing with my bike at Courthouse. 

Bike poses at Courthouse Towers

And, then, I went to windows. So, I think that's around eight miles one way, a little maybe a little bit more than that. Eight miles one way or maybe nine miles one way. And it's about nine hundred to twelve hundred feet. I forget, exactly the elevation gain throughout that entire duration. 

The Gossips at Arches National Park

Now, when I did that in 2019, I only went one way Courthouse to Windows. And I was --I was pooped out, pooped out, "pooped out." Have you heard that phrase? It means tired, exhausted. Oh, my God. I was so -- I just could and my legs were hurting because of I wasn't used to riding that type of elevation. Most cyclists who are used to it, they're probably laughing at me thinking I'm a pansy. OK, fine. I was a pansy, so I only went one way and it took me about three hours to do that whole one way trip from Courthouse to Windows in 2020. 

Balanced Rock Bike Ride Pit Stop

This year, we also did Courthouse to Windows. But, I also came back. So, I went both ways. This year. I was pretty proud of myself. And it took me, I think, three and a half or four hours. So, I not only was able to do it both ways this year, but I think I kind of beat my time from last year even going in one direction.

[00:07:42] I'd have to check the stats on that, but I'm pretty sure I did. And I was really impressed because in twenty nineteen I did a lot of cycling, so I improved my stamina on a bicycle. I didn't know you could do that as you get older. But guess what? I'm excited to tell you that you can. So if you don't think you can do better at athletics, if you keep practicing at any age, you can get better. It has to happen. 

Multi shades of red rocks

So, yeah...so we did the road cycling and it's incredible. The scenery is just incredible. Like, I want to embed some pictures up here so you could see all those pictures of the amazing scenery. And, when I put this into my actual blog, I'll, you know, have bigger sized pictures so you can see it's just incredible. 

Approaching Windows- with Turret Arch in the Background

So you would know once you see that scenery, not only a pictures, you want to go there and see in person, but once you see in person, it just blows your mind. Have you heard that phrase "blows your mind?" Poof, it blows your mind. It means you can't believe it. It's unbelievable. It's just, you know, captivating. It just makes you wonder, you know, how how did does this even exist? It's just mind blowing. So you can either say blow..."blows my mind" or "blows your mind" or "mind blowing."

Cycling in the desert

[00:09:06] All that means the same thing. It's just it just makes you wonder and just think this is too amazing. I mean, how can it even be real? Right? So, if you get a chance ever in your life to go to Moab or when you get a chance if you don't have a bicycle with you because you're probably traveling from a distance and you don't want to carry that on an airplane, which is understandable, you can rent a bicycle in the town of Moab. As I said earlier in this podcast, that people from all over the world come to Moab for mountain biking. So, there's a lot of bicycle shops in Moab where you can rent a bike. Now, if you're going to go there, see on a very busy holiday weekend, if you know, you can call them a couple of weeks in advance to....reserve your bike so that it will be there waiting for you. 

Wonderful bridge over the Colorado River

Otherwise, if you just show up there and then reserve it, you probably won't get it on a busy weekend, on a busy holiday weekend, especially in the summertime. So, you don't have worry about that. Now, you might wonder, "How do I carry my bicycle up into Arches from Moab?" Well, if you're an avid cyclist, you don't even have to really worry about that if you're staying in a hotel in downtown Moab. You can ride your bicycle from downtown Moab up to the entrance of Arches, and that's like four or five miles.

[00:10:35] ,So obviously, going back and forth, that's going to add eight to 10 miles. But if you're an avid cyclist, you know, I don't think that's going to matter too much for you. But if you're not really that much of an avid cyclist, you can ask the bicycle shop if they can rent a carrier for you to put on your car. Or maybe they will help you to carry the bicycle up. I wish I had taken a picture of this to put this picture in this video, but I don't think I have a picture of it. But one year we actually saw a bicycle taxi in Moab. So what that was was like, you know, people who were renting bicycles could actually, I guess, call something like an Uber to take them up or bring them back down from a park. And the Uber had a bicycle rack on it that they would put your bicycle on and take you up into the park with your bicycle and then bring you back down. So, yeah, if you are traveling from a long ways away and you don't have a bicycle, you can always rent one. And there's all different kinds of bikes to rent. But that will save you from worrying about that. So these are some ideas for bicycling and Moab. And, I hope you like some of our pictures. If you're seeing this video on YouTube You can hop over to the blog link. That should be under the video somewhere where, you can actually see full sized pictures of some of the things I was talking about in this video. So, do you like these videos of T-shirt travel tales? There'll be others. I have done a couple already. You can search my blog for that or this YouTube page for T-shirt travel tales and hopefully you'll find more episodes. Thanks for listening. And, if you have any comments, questions, so hesitate to leave them on the bottom of this video. If you have watched the whole thing, thank you so much. I appreciate it. I'm Jennifer Kumar. I manage Authentic Journeys. I do cross-cultural training and coaching, especially for offshore teams or people who work outside of the US with people in the US on a virtual team who want to understand how to communicate more effectively across cultures or for expats living in the U.S. who also are in the same predicament. So, if that sounds like something you're interested in, you can go to my website - authenticjourneys.info. You can call me. My phone number in the U.S. three eight five two one eight zero nine four seven. My email address - info at authentic journeys dot info. And, I have a WhatsApp number. That's an Indian number. So, the country code is nine one nine five three nine three four seven five two nine. Thanks for listening and see you next time.

[00:13:13] Bye.

See the rest of the photos in the video! 

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.