The Commonwealth Games Organizing committee has put up some travel tips for the foreign tourists traveling to India during the games. TOI ran an article.
I went to the website and browsed through the section. They have done a decent job of putting together a lot of detailed instructions, some seemingly trivial points to actually useful ones. Few of the tips are hilarious though, more so because they actually make sense and are perfectly applicable in the crazy milieu that is India.
Picked up a few gems from the list. And added my notes ;)
1) Be aware that public displays of affection (hugging, kissing) are generally not appreciated. However, it is common to see men showing affection and camaraderie on the roads and in villages throughout the country.
Crystal clear advice. Enjoy the joie-de-vivre around and our awesome camaraderie. Just don’t touch us. Or better, keep away from your boyfriend/girlfriend too.
2) If you are male introduced to a lady or a grown-up girl, don’t take the initiative of offering a handshake. If she extends her hand, you must reciprocate, but don’t be the first to extend your hand.
Taking initiative for a handshake is punishable by 1000 lashings in public under the Indian Penal Code section 203A. And if you do not reciprocate a woman’s handshake, the little finger on your left hand will be cut off and parceled to your home country.Cross your fingers correctly,or lose them.
3) If you find the lady is not extending a hand shake, go for the Namastey. Even with men, the Namastey can be an excellent little PR gimmick! Follow it up with a kaise hai (how are you?) and you have broken the first block of ice if one there was!
This is fun. Usually the response will be “Arey behnnc*od, yeh angrez hamari bhasa kab se bol ne lage.Oi vherry nice ji,vherry nice”. Don’t panic. Just smile and walk away quietly.
4) Many Indians are in the habit of shaking their head in the course of conversation or taking instructions. Don’t show amusement if you witness this.
Don’t show any amusement. Just tag along and nod your head vigorously too, the great Indian nod. Learn by watching this video :
5) Politics can be freely discussed in India and most people will have an opinion which they will not mind being contradicted, but avoid discussing religion.
So if you are in a mood for adventure, find a noisy bunch of Indians and start a topic on politics and just for the heck of it, contradict everything they say.
“Manmohan Singh is a bad PM”
“So are you saying Manmohan Singh is a good PM?”
“Do you even know who our PM is?”
Note: Indians eat spicy food and are considered to be temperamental people.Just a fore-warning.
6)In India, public toilet facilities are few and far between and outside of the hotels and restaurants can be of dubious cleanliness. We recommend taking every opportunity you can to use a clean toilet in hotels and restaurants and that you carry tissues/wet wipes with you.
THIS. This is the most useful advice to anyone visiting India or for that matter anyone living in India too. Don’t bring your dirty stuff outdoors . Leave it at home.
7) Never buy food from roadside stalls or mobile canteens. Not that they are necessarily bad, but one’s system may not be accustomed to such delicacies which may result in an upset stomach.
This is a polite way of saying – do not to get adventurous with Indian food. If you get cocky with Indian food, it will eat you, not the other way round. This and the previous advice are correlated, of course. Also,this is a clever way of making the tourists eat at expensive places and thus increase our tourism revenue .(Russell Peters Indian voice)India got brains,buddy.
8) Wash your hands before and after eating.
You need not carry any water bottles with you. We have a hand-wash facility every 10 meters in India. Just reach for your nearest pothole.
9) If you are buying from roadside stalls or hawkers be prepared to bargain. Start by offering half the price and settle for 60 per cent.
We are ages ahead of you dumb westerners. We’ve already instructed the shopkeepers to quote 8 times the price to start with.
10) Even in the most cosmopolitan of cities in India the chances are that your different appearance might mean that you will be stared at. Please do not be offended. No harm is meant, it is just curiosity.
Also,we Indian men believe ogling at a white female showers us with the blessings of the Hindu deities. No wild sexual fantasies are involved during the ogling.
11) Self- drive cars though available are not recommended as it is not advisable for you to drive on the Indian roads with all the traffic.
Never say “Over my dead body” when in India. You’ll never even know what hit you.
So while the other nations look on with amusement and the chaos and pandemonium going on,all we can do is pray that the games go on smoothly. I’m sure there is going to lot of unintended fun; lets hope that the safety of participants and tourists are ensured. Or we’ll simply blame it on the British.
As a song lyric in Peepli Live goes,
….Baat hai chhoti bada patangad
Arrey India sir yeh cheez durandhar
Jaib dalidar dil hai samandar
Jaib dalidar dil hai samandar…… :)
If interested : CWG OC Travel Tips