Coping with, and trying to understand, the tumult of India

India Train

I saw this great article on the topic in the Philadelphia Inquirer and it inspired me to share a few tips of my own on getting around India:

  1. That guy on the train is going to keep staring at you. Even if he speaks English and you ask him to stop. He will shake his head side to side, say, “Yes, no problem,” and keep staring at you. Don’t try to explain to him that it is a problem, because he’s being honest – staring at you is not a problem for him.
  2. Guys, when the Indian gentlemen who has just invited you to have a meal with his family seems to be insistent on holding your hand while telling you his life story, don’t take it the wrong way, he’s just expressing a feeling of “brotherhood.”
  3. Furthermore, don’t ask the two young men holding hands as they walk down the street if they find it difficult to be homosexual in India. They probably aren’t gay, and they probably aren’t going to appreciate the assumption.
  4. Don’t do ANYTHING in public with your left hand, unless you want to be seen as a vulgar tourist. In India, the left hand is often used for, well, you can look it up.
  5. Here’s a tip for the guys – Lines? What lines? Just push to the front like everyone else if you can’t find a “foreigners’ queue.”
  6. And Ladies – Guess what, in train stations and elsewhere, you are often the boss. Find the women’s queue or allow yourself to be escorted to the front.
  7. Unless you’re spending all your nights in the Hyatt or other upscale places, bring your own bed sheets, trust me on this.
  8. Don’t mess with the cows. They will charge you.