Ethnographic Study On Tulsi Indian Vegetarian Restaurant Commerce Essay


Considering various range of distinct political, economic, cultural trends, "Globalization" has become the most fashionable word of contemporary political and academic debate. Globalization produces new markets and wealth, even though suffering, disorder, and unrest is caused widespread. The financial crises of 2008-2009 has disclosed the dangers of unstable, deregulated global economy perhaps given rise to crucial global enterprises for change.

To canvass the above facts, I have carried on an ethnographic study on "Tulsi - Indian Vegetarian Restaurant" which is located at the heart of Bradford City Centre. Here, I would be emphasising on globalization theories based upon the globalization of culture and products.

Tulsi. The name itself expresses the tradition and the rich culture (Sanskriti) of India. Tulsi is reckoned to be an auspicious 'Queen of Herb' and a sacred medical plant of India. One feels as proud and dignified as and when they enter the restaurant, spirit that I experienced when I entered the restaurant. I saw small waiting area with the best seating arrangements made for customers with very comfortable sofas and ethnic stools that exclusively represented Indian culture of Hospitality "Atithi Devo Bhava" which means 'The guest is God'. I was pleased looking at the ambience, with walls painted in white and pink design on the roof along with pillars shaded in green. When asked about the theme, I was told that they were inspired by the herb itself and hence adopted the design from the plant wherein green colour symbolizes leaves, pink compared to the bud and white to the flowers. In order to embellish the interior, they decorated the walls with paintings of Tulsi plant and also paintings of other vegetables.

Waiting/Relaxing Area Paintings on Wall

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The restaurant is big with 45 tables (approximately 120 seats) and very spacious. One side of the restaurant is fitted with transparent glass letting the customers to glimpse outside, likewise allows the passers by to peep through. However, this makes customers very uncomfortable to be sitting near the glass, nevertheless distracts our mind by playing soft Indian music in the background. Restaurant gives options for people to choose between A la carte and Buffet. Restaurant appears even more pleasing at night as the tables are lit with candles. To make it feel elegant and traditional, they have used 'Diyas' (lamps that is exclusively used in Diwali (Festival of Lights) - one of the main festivals of Hinduism. Menu for wines and hard drinks was placed on the table making it convenient for customers to choose their appetizers. Apart from having full license to serve drinks, they have opened a small bar at one corner of the restaurant. I observed wooden handicraft high chairs for babies to sit on, making parents comfortable for feeding their babies. Since I visited the restaurant on a weekday in the afternoon, I could only observe 20 customers. I was astonished by looking at the customers as they were all from different parts of the world enjoying the delicious vegetarian Indian food with spices. People visited were from Africa, England, Russia, Oman, Iraq, Pakistan and others who fall under the age group of 23 - 45. I opted to have a buffet as I was hungry and wanted to taste different varieties of food kept in buffet. Surprisingly, there were 15 different dishes those which are exclusively known for its delicacy all over India. The dishes include Masala Dosa, Vegetable Hyderabadi, Peas Masala, Paneer Tikka Masala, Dal, Gajar Halwa, Gulab Jamun, Vegetable Biryani and many others. All of this reminded me of being in India, as the taste, aroma and style of presenting were just similar. Eating Masala Dosa reminded me of the ones that you get in Southern part of India. There were Indians as well celebrating one of their friends' birthday. Interestingly, they were eating food with their hands. Russian couple who had joined them were struggling to eat Dosa with fork and knife, apparently started eating with hand looking at their Indian friends and enjoying the Dosa. Just after they finished eating they grabbed some deserts to overcome the spice. I was very fortunate, as I got a chance to meet the manager of the restaurant who apparently is an Indian and owns few Cash and Carry stores in UK. Materials to cook are brought from their own stores. Administration staffs are well diverse Chef being from India, Kitchen Helper from China, Pot washer from Saudi Arabia and waiting staffs from Bradford University and College. Staffs are dressed in a simple green colour shirt, with restaurant logo to their right in pink. They provide excellent customer service, respecting the customers, fulfilling their needs and requirements.


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Globalization is one of the most recent and debatable topic of today across the world. Friedman (2000, p.9) defined globalization as "the inexorable integration of markets, nation-states, and technologies... in a way that is enabling individuals, corporations and nation-states to reach around the world farther, faster, deeper and cheaper than ever before." According to Hill (2007) globalization refer to the shifts towards an additional integrated and inter-reliant world economy having several facets, including the globalization of market and the globalization of production. Whereas according to Gilpin (2000), "Globalization is a triumphalist light, as the penetration of capitalism into every corner of the world, bringing with it the possibility for all the world's population to participate in the fruits of the international division of labour and market economy," cited by Brinkman and Brinkman, (2002, pp. 730-731). The rapidity and impact of change may differ from one field of activity to another. Globalization has brought about spectacular changes in the ways in which people live and work, opening up new opportunities at the same time creating new risk and uncertainties from forces which seem remote and immeasurable. Therefore, globalization creates high attention around the globe and there are concerns about national sovereignty (Hill, 2007).

Almost every nation is affected due to globalization. We come across globalization at every aspect of our lives, be it economic, social, cultural, widespread of goods, services and ideas that influences the change in globalization around the world. Although globalization of culture is of small significance to policy makers, it has tremendous influence and impact to the nations involved and their own people. Hofstede (1980) describes culture as the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another. In a sense culture includes spirituality, moral values and ethical values which are building blocks of culture. Religion, rituals, art and language symbolizes culture when put together forms a society. According to Terpstra and David (1991, p. 6) culture can be broadly defined as, ' a learned, shared, compelling, interrelated set of symbols whose meanings provide a set of orientations for members of a society.' In all culture includes values and beliefs that is shared by particular groups following norms of behaviour adapted by the members. Primarily values relate to beliefs in good and evil, right and wrong. (Morrison 2006).

Food is one of the oldest forms of global carrier in culture. Changes in our eating habit or preparation reduce our traditional beliefs. Observations have been made in the loss of traditional values with non traditional food habits in the countries abroad. Different kind of food is symbolic to its particular region, religion and culture. India is known for its diversity, being its culture, food, geography, and its climate. Introduction of non-traditional food into such a society along with other factors have an adverse impact on the tradition that it tries to uphold.

Ohmae (1995) cited by (Morrison 2006) stated that economic globalization is leading to cultural globalization, which can be defined as movement towards a borderless world, in which cultural differences are fading in real significance. He also added to the facts that some of the multinational corporations possess more power than government; as well the consumer markets are now being globalized, than being confined locally and nationally.

According to Hill (2007) Globalization of production refers to the sourcing of goods and services from locations around the world to take benefit of national differences in the cost and quality of factors of production such as labour, energy, land and capital. Globalization of the production is a new phenomenon for many people offering them the access to global products that otherwise they would have got. However, concern about change in globalization threatening viability of products made locally exists. Considering the takeover of foreign food in markets at cheaper rates often affects the farmers who traditionally have earned their living working in their small farm lands and selling the products. Product globalization is thus defined as the method of creating or modification of a product or food to be adapted by other cultures and nations.

Widespread globalization of production is the reaction of industrially developed country facing competition and challenges from low-cost imports. Producers conduct their production from an underdeveloped country due to low production cost. Ultimate success of this strategy is solely dependent on the cost of labour, transportation, communications and the comparative cost of automation which is the principal alternative to labour intensive production (Grunwald 1985). Hence this has been helped the firms to be successful in a developed country to remain forever competitive and in turn has led to the increase in prosperity of underdeveloped or developing countries.

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According to Hill (2007, p.6), "Globalization of markets refers to the merging of historically distinct and separate national markets into one huge global marketplace. Coca-Cola soft drink, Citigroup credit card, Sony play station etc are the famous example of global market.

Globalization not only is increasing the availability of foreign made consumer products and ruining traditional producers but also is increasing the international trade in cultural products and its services, like music, publications and movies. The trade in cultural products is expanding and increasing the exposure of societies to foreign culture. The exposure to foreign cultural goods moreover brings about changes in local cultures, values and its tradition.


To begin with "Tulsi is a sacred medicinal plant and prayed by the Hindus considering the plant to be auspicious. It is grown in the house and highlights the Indian culture and tradition that is attached to the customs, rituals and religions. Tulsi is a typical Indian restaurant and can smell, feel the culture as you step in by the ambience, food, taste, music and their style of work. From my observation would contemplate on Tulsi being an ideal example of globalization. As stated Tulsi is placed in the heart of Bradford City Centre and is surrounded by other restaurants bringing representing other parts of the world like China, Pakistan and USA. It has the choice of serving from the menu or buffet that is not seen in many restaurants otherwise which has a blend of western as well as Indian culture. Customers visiting are all from different parts of the world (Russia, Africa, England, Pakistan etc) enjoying the delicacy of the Indian food cherishing each moment spent at Tulsi. Common language of communication was English that is easily understood by the customers as well as the staff.

One could feel the taste, environment, food, interior and music of India as it was so pleasant and soothing to heart. The restaurant explains to us on how globalization has brought changes in the ways in which world comes closer. Staffs working in the restaurants were also globalized representing completely different parts of the world. Surprisingly, you will find different people with distinct nationality and working in a globalized environment earning and living in UK. Interestingly, spices, vegetables, sauces, fruits and other food grains are imported from other parts of the world as UK may not cultivate all the vegetable required. However few spices that are exclusively required for certain curry's are imported from India, as it is one of the finest cultivator of spices and herbs. Here, Hill's definition of Globalization of production fits best which states that globalization of production is considered as sourcing of goods and services from different locations around the world in order to take benefit of national differences with respect to cost and quality of factors of production such as labour, energy, land and capital. Likewise, wines and other hard drinks are also imported from other countries. Importantly, to note the utensils and other vessels that are specifically needed to enhance the Indian food are also imported from India while others imported from local or various global markets, as the buffet was set up with typically vessels sold in India defining the globalization of product. Despite using advanced technology food is exclusively prepared by Indian traditional way of cooking that adds to taste of the delicious food served at Tulsi.


The ethnographic study above highlights the globalization of culture that is observed in Tulsi- Indian Vegetarian Restaurant and has been linked to the existing literature. The unique speciality of Tulsi, is it being the only vegetarian restaurant in Bradford with pure Indian taste and custom unlike other restaurants who claim to be an Indian restaurant. The only drawback of this restaurant that you will find is the bar in the corner which contradicts the Indian tradition. This essay is a combination of strong evidence of globalization of culture and production that is empirically supported by the literature presented by different authors. The important aspects of culture that is highlighted are food, religion, customs, traditions, art and rituals. Variety of food is served in this restaurant that is enjoyed by all whoever visits the restaurant. Emphasis on the globalization of production is explained with an example of raw materials and products. Last to conclude Tulsi is not a multinational organization unlike McDonald or KFC which has its franchise across the globe hence it is not a globalized restaurant. Since globalization has a wide concept, Tulsi gives us the example of culture globalization which is just a small concept of globalization.