India: Public Behaviour – Part 2


More tips

Feet are considered unclean in India, so avoid pointing your feet at another person. In the case that your feet or shoes touch another person, you are expected to apologize by saying ‘sorry.’

Indians do not maintain continuous eye-contact while talking with others. Direct eye-contact may be seen as intrusive. On the other hand, do not feel uncomfortable if you find an Indian gazing at you; this is because Indians are curious–to the extent of sometimes being intrusive–about foreigners.

The comfortable distance to be maintained during an interaction is much closer in India than in most Western countries. In general, a distance of about 2 or 2 ½ feet is seen as comfortable. However, since India has very high population density, in public spaces [e.g., public transport, a queue, etc.], don’t be surprised if you find people almost rubbing against you.

The public spaces [e.g., markets, roads, public transportation, etc.] in India are far more crowded than in the West. You need to be careful while crossing roads, and of pick-pockets who can steal your purse/ wallet.

Being a poor country, you are likely to find beggars in most public places. It is advisable to ignore them, since if you give them alms, you are likely to be pestered by many others.

Most Indians are very courteous to foreigners. However, many also see foreigners as a target for being swindled. You need to be careful about people who try to give you ‘great deals’–do check their credentials before giving them money.

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