1. If you are male introduced to a lady
or a grown-up girl, don't take the initiative of offering
a handshake. If she extends
her hand, you must reciprocate,
but don't be the first to extend your hand. If you are female
and are being introduced
to a male: it is up to you the female
to take the initiative for a handshake. The rule of thumb
is: the female extends her
hand first, and the male reciprocates.
2. The Western practice of a peck on the cheek as a form of
greeting a lady or a grown up girl is JUST NOT IN when you
are in India unless you happen to
be in 'Westernised Indian' circles or in the company of people
in the glamour
industry such as models and beauty
queens (even then, DON'T take the initiative if you are male).
3. The namastay
is a local form of greeting. It involves
the joining of your palms as during prayer in church well,
exactly, but it can pass (in church,
the two thumbs are crossed, in the Indian 'namastay
the thumbs join but remain
parallel to each other: this is only
for information as the difference is not visible to the person
in front of you).
4. If you find the lady is not extending a handshake, go for
. Even with men, the namastay
excellent little PR gimmick! Follow
it up with a kaise hai (how are you?) and you have broken
the first block of ice if
one there was!
5. Politics can be freely discussed in India and most people
will have an opinion, which they will not mind being
contradicted. But avoid discussing
religion, especially with Muslims who form 11% of India's
6. Avoid visiting Kashmir in the extreme north as well as
areas in the extreme north-east. Foreigners, especially West
Europeans ands Americans, are at risk to
hostage taking by terrorists in those areas. The rest of India
is safe haven for
7. Don't trust strangers with money. Trust your hotel, but
not people you may bump into on the streets.
8. If somebody has invited you home for dinner, carry with
you a box of sweets or at least a chocolate bar for the kid.
9. If you are buying from roadside stalls or hawkers bargain
you must. Start by offering half the price they ask for and
settle for 60 per cent. Don't bargain
in proper shops especially those that display "Fixed
Price" signs: that will be seen
as bad manners.
10. Never buy food from roadside stalls or mobile canteens.
Not that they are bad, but your system may not be
accustomed to such
delicacies and you might end up spending more time in the
loo than normal.
11. Drink bottled water only. Even many Indians who have lived
out of India for a few years sometimes suffer stomach
upsets on drinking local
tap water. If there is no alternative to tap water, ensure
it is boiled.
12. Don't offer bribes to get any job done. Bribe taking and
bribe giving are a common practice in India but they are
intended to speed
up things or win a favour that you are not entitled to. Plan
well in advance. Use consultants or
trade and industry
associations. If you expect favours, let them come free or
not at all. Warn anyone (even in
asks you for a bribe that you would report him to the Anti
Corruption Bureau or the nearest police
station. If he
persists, do it discreetly so that he can be caught red-handed.
13. Indian English has its own delights especially to foreigners
of English nativity. Don't show amusement at the different
Indian accents and choice
of words. This does not take away from the fact that many
Indians speak and write better
English than many native
14. Many Indians are in the habit of shaking their head in
the course of conversation or taking instructions. Don't show
amusement if you witness
15. Avoid offers of spiritual salvation and magic remedies
from saints, God men and quacks. There may be some
people in India, but there is no way you can distinguish the
genuine ones from the crooks. If you
are seriously interested
in these aspects of India, take help from someone you know
or visit one of the respected
16. Avoid driving in India unless you have been trained on