This paper presents a method and results of an ethnographic study aimed at building an understanding of Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) adoption in Mumbai, India. The study combined field observations and semi-structured interviews (N = 43) of early ATM adopters, bank customers who do not use ATMs, and people who used the ATM for the first time as part of our research. Data were analysed to identify specific cultural traits that may affect the adoption of ATMs in urban India. Results demonstrated the unique role of the cultural context in affecting users' expectations and behavioural possibilities, thus determining people's response to the machine. This led to the conclusion that an understanding of cultural biases and metaphors can facilitate technology diffusion and acceptance informing design localisation and supporting the development of strategies to motivate and train users.