In the UK, if you say ‘ok, ok’ – it usually has a certain air of being ever so slightly annoyed; a sharp edge that has an undercurrent of ‘good grief, I am dealing with that, why are you still going on about it?’ Not so in India – here it means simply ‘thank you for the information, I understand and will comply.’ And it is never said on its own – oh no, you never get a singular, or even pair of oks, no it’s always four of them.
You hear it most often on the phone – a stream of affirmatives towards the end of the conversation – and it has a pleasant upbeat feeling. But I also hear it a lot at work – sometimes passing a variety of peoples desks I can hear an endless stream of OK’s one after the other. Like a ribbon of agreement.
Trouble is of course that outside of the obliging, efficient cocoon of work what ‘ok, ok, ok, ok’ actually so often means is ‘thanks for the information, I understand and have no intention of actually doing what you’ve asked – but thanks for asking so clearly.’