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Monday, September 13, 2010

Bad Habits, Not Really bad in India

As a parent I am constantly telling my children not to stare, pick your nose, belch or pass gas (loudly anyway) in public. These things are essential to preserving your own dignity in North American society and out of respect for those around you (especially in the case of the passing of gas). Outside of Western society and crowded planes, these habits have different meanings and level of offense.

First of all in India, it is not considered rude to stare and in fact, you will find as a fair skinned person – you are stared at quite a bit. Add blonde and female and there will be entire buses that peer out of their windows at you as you sit in traffic. Ignore it and get used to it, no matter where you go, if you are foreign, the local population is generally curious about you and checking out your differences.

Spitting – we do not see this too often in the US and I have experienced it in China, but spitting is quite a sight here in India. People like to chew on betel leaves and tobacco which forms a most putrid red mixture. You can tell a heavy spitter the minute they open up their mouths because their teeth are stained red like clay. The government is trying to get people to stop spitting on the monuments, on hospital floors or in the holy water near their temples. If you make it to India, you won’t go more than 5 minutes without seeing a stream of red spit streaming out of a group of people. The only good thing about spitters here vs. China, they don’t accompany their spit with disgusting guttural noise.

I haven’t come across any of my normal habits that are considered vile over here, but when I do, I will let you know.

p.s. this picture I borrowed but I have seen ones that say "Do not spit in holy water"

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