When in India, do as Indians do

As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as Romans do”, same is the case with any other place. For the best experience, you’ve to mingle with the natives, camouflage by your characteristics and get a chance to lead an alternate lifestyle! Here are some practices you can keep in mind while living the Indian experience:

1. The Ever Impressive ‘Namaste’

namaste
Photo by Marji Lang

The Indian style of greeting, practised by folding the hands and joining them at the palm symbolizes humbleness and respect. You greet an Indian by ‘Namaste’ or ‘Namaskar’ and you’re sure to receive back a wide grin with similar gesture. Bending down and touching the feet of an elder person is also seen as paying respect and anyone you greet that way after a greeting will simply win their hearts!

2. Getting Tea at the Roadside stall

This sight is pretty popular at roadside stalls in the early morning!

Sitting in the shackles, with a cup of tea in your hand will immediately get you some amiable chatters. Join them, listen to their gossips, ask them, and you would learn all that you needed to know and maybe even more than that (about the place, of course!). Indians make up for a very favourable company at tea times!

3. The Betel Leaf Flavour

banarasi paan
Lost? Need to find out something? Why not have a ‘paan’ while you’re doing so? The ever friendly betel leaf stall owner, also called the ‘paanwala’ is always glad to offer you directions, more so when you ask for a ‘meetha paan’ (sweet betel leaf). And don’t they make up as exceptional mouth-fresheners!

4. The Shopping Scenario

shopping india
Shopping woes? Ask a woman! | Photo by Jon Siegel

 

Need help with shopping? Confused in frenzy of the market? Just politely ask any woman who you see shopping around for a little help. They would gladly offer you solutions to your shopping woes, maybe even bargain you some good deal! India or anywhere, women are women after all!

5. A Brother in Need is a Brother Indeed!

When you refer to Indian people, refer them as you would do someone in your family. A guy having similar age as ‘brother’, a girl as ‘sister’, an elderly person as ‘Uncle’ or ‘Aunty’. They would be really touched by the emotional touch, and surely respond with a positive gesture. This little gesture immediately gets you favourite amongst the people. (Remember how Swami Vivekananda addressed Americans at Chicago?)

 6. Elegance of the Ethnic Wear

Yoga in Rishikesh
Photo by Swiatoslaw Wojtkowiak

What fun is it if you don’t show off your fashion skills a bit? Besides Indian clothing is quite comfortable and fun way to be around. Just shop well, keep it neat and voila! You get people going ‘Aww… Isn’t that sweet?’! An easy way to impress the folks as well as making a good deal of fashion!

7. Show off a bit!

Tell the Indians what you have learnt about their great culture- sound impressed. And ask what you need to know. The listener, gleaming with pride now would inform you even something more! Ask what you need to know about life in India etc. and they would cheerfully give you all the answers.

8. Befriend a Family

Befriend an Indian family, and get a memorable treatment from the hosts. They’re sure to invite you for dinner or lunch, and when they do, they would make sure that you get served the best! Taste Indian platters in an Indian home! (Note: Maintain caution though, follow your instincts and avoid getting in with the wrong people. You don’t wanna bump into someone like ‘Leslie Chow’ now. Do you?)

9. Entertainment Indian Style

Folk Dance Chokhi Dhani

Go for a Bollywood movie in a hall, or a cultural program, or merely collect some Indian tracks for your playlist! The retro songs shall give you an authentic experience of subcontinent. Oh, play it loud when appropriate, and you might get some pleasantly amused Indian people around, humming the tunes!

10. Break the Ice

new friends in train

When traveling, try and break the ice with your fellow passengers. Being mostly shy creatures, your co-passengers might not be able to initiate a chat. But once you do, the people get very comfortable with it! Instead of it being a boring journey, it might turn out to be an interesting and informative one!

Last but not the least- respect the Indian ways- culture, tradition. Indians are generally very peaceful and friendly people, not specifically hard to impress. Before you know it, you have made some really good friends! Is it not wonderful to take back some love from this country? The more you love it, the more you get loved back by it! And hence it’s there on the map, as if welcoming all people with open arms!

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