Fri, 10th Nov '06, 8:15 am::

Things not to do when you're in India: List of faux pas. I'm smiling while reading the list because it never occurred to me how much of this is so embedded in me that I do it without realizing. Nobody's allowed to enter my house with their shoes on. If my feet ever touch books or money, I stop for a second as if apologizing to the gods above. I still open all the gifts I get in private. I feel VERY odd opening them up in front of the person that just gave it to me. However, since I'm left-hand I usually don't think twice about any of the left-handed faux pas. Here's two I can think of:

  • The appropriate response to "Thank You" is not "You're welcome" but rather "Mention Not." Similarly, it is perfectly normal to respond to "How are you?" with "I'm fine" unlike in the Western Countries where "I'm fine" is usually said sarcastically.
  • Use of subtle sarcasm should be avoided initially since the barriers of language and cultural differences often make the humor harder to detect and your host may end up interpreting the words as displeasure or even insult.

I recommend that if you're going to visit India anytime soon and have never been there before, you read the entire list.

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