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10 Things Expats in India Should NEVER Do

If you are planning to live in India or you are already living there, we have put together 10 things that expatriates should not do. We hope that by hearing to these cultural rules, this may help you enjoy your time in this beautiful country. Here are 10 things Expats should not do in India:

1) Use your left hand to eat or pass objects. Many people in Indian associate the left hand with performing ablutions after using the toilet. You should therefore try to avoid touching food or other people with your left hand.

2) Shake an Indian woman’s hand. It is generally not acceptable for men to shake hands with women when meeting or greeting. Western women may offer their hand to a westernized Indian man, but not normally to other women. Traditional Indian women may shake hands with foreign women but not usually with men.

3) Point your feet at an individual. In Indian people have the perception that feet are unclean and you should therefore avoid pointing with your feet, touching objects with them or pointing them at someone. It is worth noting, however, that many Indian’s will bend down and touch the feet of their elders as a sign of respect.

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4) Wear tight or revealing clothing. The majority of Indian people dress very conservatively and it is generally advisable that expatriates do the same, especially when visiting some of the more rural areas. To avoid causing offence wear trousers or long skirts and always cover your shoulders when visiting places of religious significance.

5) Touch an individual’s head. The head is considered to be sensitive and you should avoid touching it.

6) Smoke without seeking the permission of the people in your company. You should always ask for permission before lighting a cigarette or cigar. In some areas it is considered rude to smoke in the presence of elders.

7) Launch straight into a business discussion. In Indian society, relationships are considered to be very important, especially when conducting business. When attending business meetings you should always try and establish rapport before commencing serious business discussions as mutual trust and respect will be important considerations in the success of your partnership.

8) Always count on the answers you are given. Many people in India do not like to say ‘no’ and will quite often provide you with the answer they think you want to hear. This is not necessarily dishonest behavior as an Indian person would be considered to be rude if they did not at least attempt to fulfill the requests of someone. Look for subtle clues as to how reliable the answer you are being given is before you place great trust in it.

9) Give white flowers as gifts. Do not give frangipani or white flowers to an Indian as they are used at funerals. You should also never give a Hindu any gift that is made of leather or alcoholic or pigskin products to Muslims.

10) Wear your shoes inside a home. It’s generally recognized as good manners to take your shoes off before entering someone’s home and in some areas shoes will be removed before entering shops. If you see shoes at an entrance, it’s a good idea to take yours off as well.

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