Friday, December 30, 2005

Unexpected India

Arranged marriages

While I was expecting people of my age to be against arranged marriages, some of them consider that form of marriage as an easy way to get married. More here.


It is not unusual to see three people on the same bike or motorists transporting unusually large objects on a bike. My records: three people and a huge backpack when travelling / two people and six bags when moving house.

Cheap books

Books are relatively cheap in India. I was amazed by the price and availability of educational textbooks.

Eve teasing

Eve teasing (an euphemism used for sexual harassment or molestation of women by men) is unfortunately frequent in India whatever a woman's skin colour/dress style. Having guys pressing their "parts" against me in crowded buses was absolutely revolting. More here.

Intrusive questions

Indians tend to be inquisitive and, as a result, don't be surprised if a complete stranger (e.g. auto driver) asks you how much you earn for a living or whether you are married.

Male friendship

At all ages, males sometimes hold hands or put an arm on each other's shoulders. It is only a sign of friendship.


People throw their garbage everywhere. I was even teased by my fellow passengers for not throwing mine through the train windows.


While I was expecting India to be a poor country, I was disturbed by the fact that people found normal to beg. More here.


"Thank you" and "please" are words that I have to painfully extract from my Indian boyfriend. In Western countries, saying civilities is ingrained into children from a young age. They are used with more parsimony in India where over-using them might come across as a little insincere. Politeness may be expressed through body language (smile, head nod) or by adding the suffix "ji" to the words for "yes" and "no" or to a person's name.


Mainly used for digestive purposes, paan is a chewing mixture made of betel leaf and fillings such as areca nut or tobacco. India has an eternal problem of people spitting (tobacco) paan on the streets and
“No smoking, no spitting” signs are commonly found in public places.


Indians don’t look at foreigners, they openly stare at them (which would be considered very rude in the West). While there is no malice in it, being permanently stared at can be irritating.

Tourist organised rip-off

Forget thieves and touts! Tourists are ripped off openly at a much larger scale. It includes paying higher airline fares and attraction entry fees (e.g Rs 10 for Indians and Rs 100 for non-Indians to enter a temple). Tourist fares apply even if, like me, you live in India and work on an Indian contract for an Indian company...


Elsa said...

Dc les indiens, des grands romantiques? Ou c'est du bluff?


Mickael said...

I fully agree with u... When I went to India, I was scared by the poverty, the diseases, the snakes, the bugs, etc. But trully, the biggest problem is to be permanently observed. Stares and xenophobia are a pain! Turned me crazy...

erasmus-in-india said...

Elsa: romantique? lol. je pense plutot que c'est le simple reflet des films bollywoodiens. De plus, les filles indiennes sont relativement difficile à approcher. Dc les indiens males doivent sortir le grand jeu et les grands mots.

Mickael: With more n more foreigners present in India, I guess the stares n xenophobia will decrease on the long run. Hopefully!