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Culture Shock – Top 7 Indian customs that might seem strange to outsiders

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While the stereotypes run far and wide, right from India being the land of snake-charmers and elephants, of cattle roaming all Indian streets, of veiled women and lecherous men, they don’t describe India as Indians know it. Indians know the real India – right from age-old traditions to co-existing modernity, from sari-clad women to girls in jeans and high heels, from businessmen to house husbands – India has all this and more, and flaunts all this with a confidence that is commendable.

Still, there are some customs that are both quaint and a little surprising to people visiting India for the first time. It may befuddle them, even shock them. But they’re still India’s long-standing cultural norms that command respect and awe. Here are the top 7 Indian customs that might seem strange to outsiders, but then India is all about surprises, right?

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It’s in our genes to give respect

We greet each other by putting our palms together and saying “Namaste” or “Namaskar”, especially if we’re greeting elders. It isn’t all that surprising if we touch our elders’ feet to seek their blessings. Treating someone with due respect doesn’t cost a thing, and we know it.

We like our footwear on the footwear stand

Feet are the dirtiest parts of the body, and we don’t see the point in wearing our footwear inside the house and trudge all the dirt in. The ideal way to enter the house is by removing footwear outside the house, or placing them on a footwear stand.

Right hand is for eating, left one is for…

You get the drift. In Indian culture, the left hand is used for cleaning oneself after defecation, and the right hand is used for eating. Indian people don’t usually eat with their left hands, except when they’re lefties. But don’t worry, Indians tend to be super-clean and will cleanse both hands equally well all the time.

PDA is not an important part of our culture

You may see a few couples holding hands in public and a few others necking in parks and on beaches. But that’s a minority; most Indian couples won’t be found dead making public displays of affection. We prefer to reserve our private moments for private times.

Yes, we bob our heads to say yes and no

It’s quite funny, too, to see an Indian do it! If we want to say yes, we might sometimes just nod our head up and down. Similarly, if we want to say no, we might shake our head side to side! But the bottom-line is, the point gets across quite nicely without a word being said.

We love making you feel comfy and cared for

Indians are known the world over for their hospitality. When it comes to welcoming guests and treating them like royalty, we simply love making you feel all warm inside. Yes, sometimes it may come across like we’re invading your privacy, but then we’re like that only and we only want the best for you.

We love it when you try to speak our language

Nothing gives an Indian more pleasure than a foreigner trying to speak Hindi or some other regional language. Your accented “Tamhara naam kiya hei” and “Mei tik hu” will melt our hearts like nothing else and we’ll probably smother you all the more with out affection.

Do you relate to these Indian customs as we did while writing them? Which other customs would you add to this list of the top 7 Indian customs?

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Nikita is a total and complete bookworm. She’s also a writer and a dreamer who dreams of travelling far and wide. Her other very important dream is to one day, very soon, write books for children.

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