India

India Don’ts

  • Do not offer to shake the hand of a person of the opposite sex unless they offer first.
  • Do not walking over books and paper, even newspaper or even touching them with your feet, as Indian people treat books as a metaphor for the Goddess of learning.
  • Do not use the same hand for eating and also for taking food from a common dish on the dining table. Indians believe other people’s saliva is unhygienic. Tasting and taking a sip from others’ glasses is regarded as violation of private space. If you need a spoon, you will need to ask for it or bring one along.   Typically, people eat with their (right) hand.
  • Do not breaking temple rules while on a visit to a temple. Feet, particularly shoes/sandals, are considered unclean, always take them off when entering a temple (except in some Westernized, urban congregations). In some temples tourists are not even allowed to walk into the most holy areas with their shirts on!
  • Do not touch anyone or receive/give anything with one’s left hand, as the left hand is only used for one’s “morning business.”
  • Do not drink any alcohol or smoke in public. It’s offensive.
  • Do not hunt, as killing wildlife can get you in serious trouble. Do not hurt a cow, as many Hindus consider the cows are holy, and are offended if they are hit by strangers.
  • Do not discuss religion, especially with Muslims who form 11% of India’s population. Do not make comments of ridicule or disrespect toward the society or any religion.  People are very resentful of Western (ignorant) judgments.
  • Do not do any public preaching or handing out of tracts, and that kind of activity is prohibited when you are in India on a tourist visa
  • Do not visit areas in the extreme north or north-east, as foreigners, especially west Europeans and Americans are at risk to be hostaged by terrorists in those areas. The other areas of India is safe for everyone.
  • Do not buy food from roadside stalls or mobile canteens. Do not drink local tap water, drink bottled water only. Do not eat fresh fruit and vegetables that you cannot peel.
  • Do not take offers of spiritual salvation and magic remedies from saints, godmen and quacks. There is no way you can distinguish the genuine ones from the crooks.
  • Do not try to explore Indian road yourself, nor to drive in India unless you have been trained on Indian roads.
  • Do not ever purchase air, rail or bus tickets through strangers or unauthorized travel agents or tour operators. In any case avoid persistent touts and taxi-wallahs at airport/stations/bus stand to help you find your hotel. Always use tourist assistance desk for proper advice.
  • Do not hire any type of transportation from unlicensed operators. In case of taxis and auto-rickshaws, try to hire them from the pre-paid booths if possible. Otherwise, insist on going by the meter or set a fare in advance to avoid being over charged.

 

India Do’s

  • Do dress modestly if you are female. No sleeveless blouses, no short skirts, no shorts, no low, loose collars. And  men do not wear shorts.
  • Do prepare yourself at the earliest. Indian traffic and roads are hapless.
  • Do greet people with big smile. Handshake with ladies especially in rural areas should be avoided.
  • If possible do cover yourself with travel insurance for thefts, loss and medi-claim. Do exchange money only through authorize banks or money changers.
  • Do immunized yourself against various diseases like typhoid, malaria, hepatitis and tetanus that are prevalent in India. Do take whatever medications you need in ample supply.
  • Do bargain with half price when you buy things from roadside stalls or hawkers, but do not bargain in proper shops especially where display “fixed price” signs.
  • Do make sure to remove your footwear when visiting a place of worship or mausoleum.
  • As customary, do bring some small gifts as hostess gifts and as presentations to one’s students, it can be as small as a postcard from your home region.