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