This is a Reply/Follow-Up post for a blogger/CouchSurfer – http://www.justonewayticket.com/2012/12/24/the-reason-why-india-makes-you-feel-like-a-superstar/
or if you’re on couchsurfing read the thread here – Why are Indians obsessed with taking photos of foreigners?
I replied it there already, but felt it could help more people understand parts of what/what-not of India if I put it up here. Hoping after reading this you won’t be caught off-guard (or at least partly) during visit to India.
Also, adding tid-bits I forgot to add when I replied the post on Couchsurfing.
Note: Some people tell me I’m not Indian, probably because the way I live.. I am mentioning this so that you understand that I am not writing this out of “Oh how can she say so about us.. racist” thought
So here goes:
> Why are Indians obsessed with taking photos of foreigners?
Not all, but few depending on where you have visited.
If you’re at tourist places, there are always these people who take pics and go back and show in their homes as to
- how pale-skinned you are
- how tiny your dress was
- how stylish you were “although being a woman”
- some take ‘em to put it on their facebook and show off.. “look look I know white peepal”
Most of these people are semi-urban/rural dwellers.
I, sometimes go social work campaigning in villages, and I get clicked (despite being only a bit avg fair than average Indian skin color).
They click me, my car, they touch the car, we go shoulder-to-shoulder and I do happily pose for pics with kids and any smiley face there. Makes them happy, gives them a moment of smile.. which makes me happy.
Then again, I see a pic of you allowing people cling to you and take a pic. I am not gonna judge them, but you might want to avoid that next time
You’ll never know a pervert in between those smiley faces.. who sadly spoil the name of the whole bunch.
However, if you come to Urban areas, like my city / other metros … not many will give a rat’s ass about any foreigner unless you start dancing in full public suddenly.
But yes, you’ll find us being extra courteous if you ask for directions when compared to how Indians will answer each other
> Be careful with street food. Don’t ask for steaks! Better yet, don’t eat any meat!
Again, depends on the place you were eating.
Indian food can be cheap(cost-wise), but usually the issue of hygiene comes in.
Better hygiene, neat food = costly restaurant (most of the times).
There are though good street food places, where due to sensible owners, the hygiene is okayish/good and food tastes great too.
You need to know people who know these places. (not the ones who “claim” to know)
Curious as to which steak you asked for.. Beef?
Then you’d probably have got fatty parts in it.
Get beef only from either a good restaurant or if its street then only from a rush-filled Muslim/Arabic restaurant. They know which parts of beef need to be cooked and which are just fat.
I don’t say this is due to religion, but because they have more experience dealing with beef which in other religious sectors in India consider holy and so zero experience.
Plus, I am a fan of what Islamic people can do with meat.. they know to churn out the best meat dishes and the best way to make meat tasty and finger licking good (I sometimes lick my plate if no one is watching ) .
> Do not tell an Indian that they speak very good English. For some reason, it offends them.
For long, Indians/Indian education system has considered people speaking fluent English to be “educated”.
They have been unaware of the fact that there are many countries where English isn’t spoken and think that all foreigners are ‘English’
Indians worked hard on their English. Even our call center jobs demand American accent/Neutral accent and there was once a time that Call-Center jobs were highly respected because only the best/cool English speakers in the colony would get one.
So when you’re telling “most” Indians that you speak good English.. they feel that you assumed that Indians by default are “uneducated” AND also that all this while before you said that sentence, you’ve been considering him/her as “uneducated”.
I think here many people take pride in their English (not just their weenie)
Heck, I have even had people(including my ex) ask me to stop “faking” my English accent … I didn’t give balls about them.. but only for my ex(since I loved her a lot) I tried to “neutralize/Indianise” my accent (which sometimes included saying a word twice.. because I forgot to Indianize it)
Now I end up talking in an Indian accent(which is “fake” for me) when I am with people who will be taken by surprise if I speak my natural one.
Who’s gonna explain people that my accent is due to the fact that I grew at my grandpa’s place who was like a foreigner mind trapped in Indian body?
I don’t bother.
> Don’t eat with your left hand… And don’t shake hands or hand stuff over with the left .
Asian culture. Money and stuff is handed over with right.
Doing it with left “depicts” casual attitude or unwillingness.
I eat with left hand and tend to hand stuff with left (I am ambidextrous), but when I see people stare at me.. I quickly shift to right.
Did I mention I am ambidextrous? That’s probably because I was made used to do stuff with my right.. and hence eventually over 25 years my right has more control over stuff than my left.
Although, left is still powerful.
Btw, If I were visiting any country.. I’d try to soak-in their culture first.
For example: I wouldn’t go to Japan/China and use chopsticks with “left hand” .. it is done with “right” as per culture. I even use it with right at home, only because “Hey these guys invented chopsticks.. so I’ll just respect them by sticking to the tradition.. unless its a stupid/illogical/inhuman tradition we’re talking about”
> Bring tons of toilet paper!!
Ah aha, that reminds me.. this is one of the reason WHY people dont like you do use the left hand.
Because here, left hand is considered to be used for the un-holy things.. like cleaning ya butt poop, fingering ya nose, cleaning ya ear wax, scratching ya hairs of private parts… and so on (anyone threw up reading this line?)
Yeah bring toilet paper, you wont find it in common stores.. because no one uses them.
Unless of course, you’re visiting anyone who is thoughtful enough to stock some. (I stock for my foreigner friends)
Or let people know to stock some for you before you visit.
> Never, absolutely never say that cricket is a stupid and boring game.
You’ll find many females who are not interested in cricket in India.
You’ll find a few of them are genuinely interested.. and a few become interested because of their male friends.
You’ll almost not find ANY male in India who doesn’t love cricket. There are a rare few though.
It’s not a game, it is a religion here.
Btw, I was interested in cricket during my school.. but, as I grew up, the game looked boring to me, and I found much interesting stuff to do.
Haven’t watched cricket for like 10 yrs now… doesn’t bother me who wins who loses, and if the God of cricket from India retired (although I do respect the fact that he has been ace at what he achieved… I have same feeling for a few other sports ace personalities too who aren’t cricketers).
> Don’t leave your shoes “on” when you enter a house or even think about putting your feet on the table.
Asian culture lady
And if you see this in a scientific angle.. streets in India aren’t as clean as first world developed countries have it.
And, you’re prone to more “walking” in India .. rather than driving around (where your car mat is the only place feet touches).
So consider you walking over spit and shit of people that they lay on the street and then walk in the house.. ain’t gonna be good for your own health.
Imagine having small kids who might pick up their fallen candy from the floor and eat it (when no ones watching). So now the candy is flavored with feces from outside, not to forget the amount of disease filled bacteria your kid is savoring.
About putting feet on table… again Asian culture.
“Foot” is considered to be that area of the body where younger people will make contact with elders to take blessings/wishes.
So, if you show your foot to elders they will get offended.. its a culture thing… you cannot have your foot in their face.
When I am at home (or with like minded people).. I fling my feet on the table, on adjacent bean bags, on anything I find.
But if my mom is walking by, or any elder is walking by (that even includes my maid), I lower my feet.
It’s a small thing to do out of respect, and I have no qualms in doing so.
Hell, I’ve even lowered my feet for people whom I have lost respect for. (my ex’s mother to be precise) … which is kinda unlikely of me (You like doing bad deeds and being selfish?.. then you don’t earn respect from me)
> Drink a lot of water, but not from the tap!
You also cannot eat directly from the container that food is cooked in. Culture again.
I don’t see a logic in it, unless you are sick and hence not do it to avoid other’s getting sick.
But let me give you logical explanation for the tap thing.
I would have not let you drink water from my tap in current apartment. May be I’d have let you drink from my previous apartment or my grandpa’s house.
Because the standard of clean water that gets supplied to Indian houses can vary vastly.
I “buy” filtered watercans because in my current apartment tap water aint great.
You will probably end up falling sick if your body immunity isn’t used to fighting half-standard filtered drinking water of India.
> Don’t pay the rickshaw driver with a $50 bill and expect change
Hell, even we don’t get proper change back even if we give Indian rupees .. with dollars what do ya expect lady! haha
Anyway, here’s why.
1. Most people think foreigners are filthy rich
2. Any one who hands them dollars, must probably be having a Uncle Scrooge (duck tales) type treasury chest… they don’t need change back… they are being generous and offering us money.
It also matters the way/style in which you fling the dollar note at them.. it can mean “keep the change poor man”
Hell yeah! thank you Goddess
> On the beach: Even if it’s tempting, don’t use cows lying on the beach as a backrest. Just… don’t!
COWS are GODS in India (at least for Hindus)
and % of hindu population in India is highest.
People expect respect and fear of God here.
How dare you go rub your back to a God… you .. you.. filthy daughter of Satan
LMAO .. I enjoy myself writing stuff about stuff that irks the logic of my brain. hahah
Anyway, if I were travelling to a country where lets say snakes were considered God (hmm snakes are Gods in India too), I wouldn’t go telling people that I ate one.. or go rub my ass on a snake… it’ll probably dig its fangs on my bums anyway
> Leave your Bikini and all the other skimpy clothes at home. Indians are not used to seeing that stuff.
Sadly, even Indian women think twice/thrice or even don’t wear them.. because
1. Density of perverts is high
2. Yes people are not used to (The more body of a woman visible in public, the more bad they are considered)
3. Because of (1) and (2), even people who aren’t perverts end up staring at you.. because its un-usual around here.. and you’re showing them something they’ve never seen in their life. ~o.O^
4. Many stupids have the ill-logic that the more skimpier the clothes, the more hornier the woman is.. and is inviting sex. There are many cases of sexual assaults and rapes in which convicts/people claim that it got induced because Men couldn’t control their sexual urges watching parts of body they haven’t seen/rarely seen and had no conscience that it is wrong.
This is the sad state of my country.
> And then, of course I watched Slumdog Millionaire on the plane. I was assuming I knew everything about Indian culture. Holy cow…
Note: She mentions later this was a joke. I read it as one too and all my answers are written light heartedly.
I just fell off my chair :/
By that logic, I expect everyone to be flying and doing kung-fu in China
Like where is it ever written that a movie “Slumdog Millionaire” is the reference for Indian culture? !!!
I watch Japanese movies/Anime a lot.. thats a ton of hours more than a mere 2 hour movie and I will never make a mistake of thinking that I know all about Japanese culture from the movie/anime.
That’s one of the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard (sorry for using word ‘stupid’)
Indian culture is freaking VAST.. living 25 yrs here and I wouldn’t still claim I know all of it.
Holy Cow Holy hell yeah!
> But then I noticed that the same guy I posed for a photo with two minutes ago had also asked an old, fat white lady behind me to pose too. I’m not 18 anymore, but still. That hurts.
OK, now that is very very sad that you felt that way.
I am happy that, that guy wasn’t a pervert and he did click with an “old”, “fat” lady too.
I am not sure why you assumed that people clicked pics with you since you are “young(er)”
If a lady is intelligent, kind or good person.. I’d rather choose to have a pic with her regardless of whether she is old, fat, bald, grandma, ‘so-called ugly superficially’, rather than have a pic with a perfect ‘ass to breast ratio’ supermodel who has none of those qualities at heart/brain.
Hehe, I guess end of my answers.. good to know you had awesome/weird fun while in India. hahaha
All my answers have been written light heartedly.. I dont see a reason to be serious on either about her blog / post.
It happens and it could happen to me too if I suddenly landed in a country with different culture / didnt have time to prep up myself. I write in a hope that someone will help me similarly someday
I blog this so that any foreigner/CSer can help themselves.
Also, Feel free to ask me if anyone has any doubts on your future visits
I’ll answer them happily (within the limits of my tiny knowledge) when I find apt time.