Featured Photo: Vinoth Chandar
1. Don’t carry toilet paper.
This is essential, especially if you just cannot live without toilet paper. In India, usage of toilet paper is pretty limited — you will find it available only in hotels, malls, and just a few homes. And if you ask why we don’t use toilet paper, I would let Shivam Mishra answer it.
2. Refuse a religious offering like Prashad.
There is no such thing called ‘Refusing a Prasad’, because no one does it. Prasad is considered God’s blessing, something that purifies you once you eat it. Obviously you wouldn’t go to jail for this, but you could definitely offend someone.
Also, just so you know, a cow is a holy image in Hinduism and their excreta is equally auspicious. So you better not give a disgusted look if you see huts anointed with gobar (cow dung) or a Pandit sprinkling gaumutra (cow’s urine) around for purification.
3. Don’t watch your feet.
Indians are conscious of what our feet touch. While entering a religious place, we take our shoes off. We touch elder’s feet to get blessings. If you accidentally hit or touch someone with your feet, you are going to look disrespectful.
In such cases, use your hands to touch the person and then your forehead or chest as a gesture of apology.
4. Greet a stranger with a hug or kiss.
This doesn’t mean we don’t kiss or hug, but we don’t kiss or hug a stranger, or sometimes even people we’ve known for years. There are always exceptions, like my neighbor who is basically a hugging-machine. When I met this old lady for the first time, I could see her arms open from a distance and needless to say she gave me a tight hug. I was struggling to make her let go off me, but still it lasted for one long minute. I now don’t care if I have to take long route home just to avoid her.
5. Cheer for Pakistan in an India-Pakistan cricket match.
Though cricket is not our national game, we don’t hesitate in taking leave from work when India has an important match. In fact, you can call it a National Sick Day when there is a match between India and our cricket rival Pakistan. Even those who aren’t much interested in cricket will be glued to the TV. And when it is a World Cup match, we don’t even care if the house sets on fire — we won’t look away from the match. People even stop their cars in the middle of highway to get out and hug each other when India wins.
6. Refuse to get a clear understanding of the Indian Railways.
India has a railway network of 63,327 km, and most of our population uses trains as a major medium of transportation to reach far-off regions. The reservation system or classes of coaches could be a head-spinning ordeal for you. And if you haven’t done your homework well, chances are you’ll end up spending hours on platforms or on a dirty sleeper class without having a seat to lie on.
7. Get sucked into a ‘too good to be true’ deal.
Let me get this clear — there are cons everywhere in the world, and they’re in India, too. If you’re offered a deal you just cannot resist, you might learn the hard way to resist the next time.
There are sellers in markets like Sarojini Nagar trying to look mysterious with one hand inside a black backpack, offering GUESS watches for merely 200 INR. They would swear these are original products that have been stolen from the showroom. And if you don’t want this, how about buying three perfumes for half the price of one’s worth and coming home to see the bottles are filled with water?
8. Lock lips in public.
If you’re thinking of locking lips with your S.O while standing on a Himalayan summit like the Ridge (Shimla), where a lot of people are strolling leisurely, clicking pictures, riding horses, eating and picnicking — you must hold back. We make sure that we give a disgusted look to the couples who are getting too cozy and locking lips in public, and you may even hear a taunt or two.
9. Visit places like Chandni Chowk and complain.
Yes, nooks of Chandni Chowk are decorated with paan stains, and people roam around with sweaty armpits in its narrow lanes. But this place is also filled with flea-market shops selling everything from pin to swords. Its jalebis, dahi-bhalle, and paranthas get people from Delhi and beyond to go hang out here.
10. Wear revealing clothes in villages and religious places.
In India, it is acceptable to wear sari and have a bare belly. But if you’re wearing a crop-top, this isn’t always acceptable, especially in the rural areas. So unless you are a disrespectful attention seeker, don’t go for revealing clothes. Save them for visiting urban areas of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, or Chandigarh.