Incredible India: The Culture Shock!

 Several things are really shocking in India! Oh yes! Really shocking! 😉

So, what?

 Boys hold hands and have cuddles publicly. It is a sign of « viril friendship ». In the West, it would be a sign of obvious homosexuality. And if these guys happened to hold their each other’s little finger, it would mean they are gay and tacky! On the contrary, Indian authorities can be less tolerant as far as mixed-couple signs of tenderness are concerned!

Follow the Indian Lady!

There are nos pedestrian crossings in some Indian streets and motorists, rickshaw wallas and camel drivers never stop. As a foreigner, I don’t have the knack of crossing safely. So, my way to cross a buzy street is simple. I wait for a lady, a lady with children in the best cases, because I guess she will try not to risk her kids’ lives and hers. Then, just before crossing, I stick to her back, (she usually looks at me with a smile because she understands what I’m doing), I choose a couple of Hindu gods at random, pray very hard, and run with the woman, following each of her steps until I am in the other side of the street. Apart from digging a tunnel, I haven’t found a better way to cross a road so far!

Yummy!

Western-like cakes made by Indian cooks are tasteless. They look like western cakes but they don’t taste like western cakes. That is not shocking but frustrating. And we have to blame ourselves for that; western tourists spend their time criticizing Indian desserts saying they are too fat, too sweet, too this, too that…but stuff themselves with them all the same! As a result, when an Indian pastry cook has to make western cakes for, let’s say…a hotel, he takes care to make brownies, apple pies and puddings without any sugar nor fat in order to correspond to our hypocrite western tastes! Conclusion: we rush onto gulab jamuns! (Once we have understood they aren’t plums in syrup of course!)

Holy Cinema!

Some Indian cinemas are noisy and spectators are really active during the movie. People chat, phone and shout at the heroes… In France, that’s simple; if you dare to unwrap a sweet during the film, a horde of spectators will turn to you with angry eyes sparkling in the dark saying « Shuuush! » until you stop your guilty activity and crouch shamefully on your seat. Of course there are exceptions when you go to a Paris Super Panorama cinema hall on Saturday afternoon to see the latest American 3D action blockbuster: The hall is suddenly invaded by the sound of popcorn rustling and crisp crunching! Hundreds of telephone screens twinkle throughout the film! However, the sound of the movie is usually so loud that you soon can’t hear anything else than you heart pounding in your head!

Welcome!

The hole-in-the-ground toilets. When the door is not broken, one can say it is comfortable. In fact, most of French children knew that type of toilets which is called « Chiottes à la turque » (meaning: Turkish Shithouse, -sorry to my Turkish friends but that’s the way it is! ) The French are infamous for those swampy places which were the worst neightmares of British students for decades! In my Primary School playgroung and in my Secondary School gymnasium, I remember those terrible moments when I had to choose between retaining myself until I found more civilized toilets at home or relieving myself despite the terrible smell of urine contained in the damp concrete ground. So, peeing in « Indian » toilets is not shocking to the French. It is just a moment of nostalgia.

French tourists don’t spit anyway!

Nearly nobody speaks English in India! That’s another common point with the French! Westerners are always told that Indians speak English, English colonialism, official language blahblahblah, but most of the people you meet while you travel in India only speak a few words of Shakespear’s language. According to Wikipedia, 12% of the Indian population speak English fluently, and most of those people are in public schools, universities, offices and big companies and big cities, that’s why you hardly ever meet them in the little villages of Rajasthan! Never mind! मैं हिंदी सीख रही हूँ ! But I still have to learn Tamoul, Punjabi, Marathi, Kannada………………………..

Really shocking, isn’t it?

Categories: Fun!, Voyages | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “Incredible India: The Culture Shock!

  1. Loved this one! Funny but true!

  2. शुक्रिया! मुझे भी यह पोस्ट पसंद है! 😉

  3. Lotho Sackville-Baggins

    Just curious – are you visiting India right now?

    And thanks for these posts – this is often times the prime reason I follow/read western’ish blogs on India. To visit (or rather re-visit) the land/the culture/the people with fresh eyes.

    Keep ’em coming…

    • No, unfortunately, I’m not in India right now and I regret it! I’m sure I would have plenty of things to talk about. I’m looking for the better way to go there. I went there in 2011. It’s a bit frustrating to stay in Paris but I’ve found lots of “Indian things” to do here.

  4. It seems like you’re learning some Hindi! Way too go, I’ve been trying to pick up on speaking/understanding it but writing in Devanagari is way beyond me!

    • Writing and reading is not so difficult. It takes a few weeks. I have more difficulties in oral understanding and speaking because nobody speaks Hindi in France and I hardly ever practise.

      • Carly Vandergriendt

        Well good luck! I have the opposite problem of trying to learn the script … of course when I hear Hindi every day, spoken by most of the people around me I am starting to be able to easily pick out words and grasp meaning. But there are also some great YouTube videos and free Hindi-learning websites if you want to hear it spoken …

      • The funny thing is, even if you do learn Hindi it wouldn’t probably help much everywhere in India. Coz most states have their own languages, as you mentioned in the post, Marathi, Odisha, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada,…..the list is quite long for one country.
        And to add to that hassle, there is the issue of local dialects. The dialects for the same language itself varies from state to state and sometimes even within a state. I guess that applies to all languages. 😦
        So what parts of India have you visited so far? Just came across your blog today. Loved what I have read here. Its nice to hear about my country from a foreigners point of view.

      • Hello! Thanks for visiting my blog!
        I know most foreigners use English when they go to India but I also learn Hindi because it is one of the official languages. I had to make a choice and the only area I’ve visited is Rajasthan where most of people speak Hindi.
        It is also like a symbol, it is a way of sharing another part of the Indian culture, a way to express my love for India, to show I don’t go there only to visit the Taj Mahal and take a few pictures. I also learn Hindi because I like languages and I am an English teacher myself so languages are important in my life. It’s brain exercising and it is also a way to meet people who have the same interest as me.
        Bye!

      • Its good to hear of your sincere love for our country and its rich culture and heritage. And I really admire the effort you are putting into learning the dialect and script of a foreign language, when we Indians fail at it too often. Kudos to you!! Urdu is spoken in a very similar fashion as Hindi, but the script is entirely different. Guess your’re already aware of that 🙂

  5. The first trait is receding especially in the cities but you can still find men holding hands at times. It gets amusing looks especially if you appear well-to-do.
    And about the cinema turning into a fish market – I have written posts about it because it is the most irritating habit I have encountered. And unfortunately, there is always a bawling child sitting behind me. 😦

    • Yes, I remember your post about the baby at the cinema! By the way I easily understand why the poor thing cries; can you imagine how scary it must be for a baby to be in the dark in front of these giant moving forms and all the terrible noises! I think cinema halls are still the only places in France where there are no babies. They usually scream even in catholic churches (where it is supposed to be quiet) and more recently in art exhibitions…and I think it’s a shame as I consider museums as the last places on earth where someone can feel safe and relaxed…

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