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the biggest cultural shock in India

Zora Vasulinova

Those might not be “the biggest” shocks, but definitely not expected stuffs

Now those things are mostly funny to me, or I just understand them, but that time it was surprising. I like to see myself as a funny person, therefore my answers are written in that way. I mean what I say, just the way I describe it is bit “lighter”. So, let’s look into my memories…:

1) Got out of air plane, got on riksha, got out, paid (local friend told me how much) driver took 50Rs and did the headshake. I was totally lost. I didn’t know if I paid less, or if it is okay, when I asked, the driver again did the headshake… 😀 This together with overall different body language was very confusing the communication.

2) Second week. I was able to cross the road with heavy traffic without any help. Applause! After few weeks I developed my own style how to cross any road. Feeling of a master.

3) People think I am rich and awesome just because I am a pale foreigner. WTF? 😀 But it was certainly a pleasure to be treated like someone special. – True is, this applies especially to less educated people.
(EDIT: It is tiresome. Of course I AM awesome. But don’t take it for granted, the other pale foreigners are not! :D)

4) Cows are worshipped but they are damn skinny and eating rubbish from the streets. ?!!!! Seems like cows are really independent over there!

5) As a woman I am considered to be weaker, taken care of, endangered etc. Sometimes it made me feel like I am a kid or less developed in my mind according my male friends.

6) Kids working manually instead of being in a school. Fact that some kid washed my clothes or was brooming in my guest house and that they were paid for that or it was considered to be normal was bit scaring me.

7) Meeting handsome, entertaining, smart males at age 20+ who are virgins. Plusthey talk about it.
First, I was shocked sex is so oppressed in this culture, second – why the hell is that even a topic to be discussed? For me it is my personal stuff, not even my parents should be interested in. Please do not inform me about the state of your virgnity ever, I do not care. Especially when I see you for the first or second time in my life.
EDIT: On contrary, in my country people would pity you for being a virgin in mid twenties anyway, we would think you are too unwanted/have not grown up yet and that is why you are still a virgin.

8) Youths hanging around the malls considering this as a fun. To me it was super pointless as well as the amount of Bollywood movies watched by a regular person. I expected more creativity in the free time, more culture… including sports, walks, performing arts, music concerts, actual theatre etc.

9) Lack of coffee…. but chai everywhere. Even though I was served with a coffee it was this processed “shit”, the powdered one (Nescafé), I was surprised, I expected the “real” one in a country which plants it. (Now I know it is to be found rather in the south…)

10) Incredible neverending noise. Even inside the houses – the fans are on.

11) The huge number of students – engineers, and how many girls study this field as well.

12) Old skinny people riding bicycle rickshaws and young fat/wealthy people using this service.
Now talk to me about respecting elders!

13) Pissing yes – kissing no “rule” for public.

14) Bribing even at the lowest level. (‘Coz of simple paperwork or little fines from a policeman)

15) Fact that I should not be outside in the night/using tuk-tuk in the night. Or that it is dangerous to do so. What’s wrong with night? Ghosts and murderers get out?

16) Many people are doing even a tiniest, non productive job. Like – it took three guys to serve me at a cash desk. One was naming the items, one was typing it in the machine and third was putting them into a bag… It took them a lot of time too.

17) Once I mistakenly left the grocery shop in a hurry without being given the cash back. I came back six hours later, there were different people, but within ten minutes they made the calls etc. and gave me my 500Rs back. WOW! I don’t think this is possible in my country.

18) The way how Indians serve and help each other without knowing each other.Providing water to ANYONE who asks. Lending your phone for a call to a stranger! That is still blowing my mind. I have never seen this in Europe.
(And thank you, the guy from pizzeria in Jodhpur, who managed to get a private toilet for me, when I really needed it and there was no option around and my bus was leaving in 20 minutes… Also thanks to that family who owned that toilet :DDD.)

19) Buying a SIM card – I had to fill out the form with the name and a job of my father. What?! Why? 😀

20) The fact that the youth are looking forward for their arranged marriage. I was supershocked by that. (Now I wish for one too, *sigh*)

EDIT: Just a note for why Europeans perceive an arranged marriage with a shock: It isnot a new thing to us. We had arranged marriages commonly 100years ago. And because along with new technologies and social changes we moved from that times it seems to us as “outworn concept”. Something like candles instead of electricity. So seeing modern people in India going for arranged m. is difficult to understand. Some of classics of Czech literature and theatre (The Bartered Bride) are about arranged m. Well, nowadays, it sounds more as a fairy tale to us.

21) People consider quite common to speak three or more languages. In Europe we also speak more languages sometimes, but if we do, we consider ourselves rather special. 😀

22) PC games are equal to sport in sense of prestige; for winning them you can be awarded and recognized even at the university level. Real absurd to me.

23) Shorts are wrong to wear by girls but sari without bra under the choli and revealing tummy is okay… Please, bewray the rule to me, I don’t see that! 😀
EDIT: See, if I had to make some joke on this it would be like:
“I think that the Indians who put a ban on jeans and t-shirt for girls do so just because sari is far more sexier.

24) Indian males with their hair dyed red/ginger. I guess it is caused by henna, and my friend told me it is not just a fashion but serves good health (which henna surely does) but to me this was very “girlish” – grown up man dying his hair is funny, the more when picking bright colour which is considered to be “female”.

Sorry  for a too long list, you are too surprising country 🙂 Comments,  disagreement and debates are more than welcome! (Much more than plain  down votes…)

I am from Czech Republic – that is the European country where Baťa company is from. Yeah. Really. 😉    Been to Jaipur in 2011 for two months during monsoon, met mostly college students, dated an Indian, having close NRI friends now.


Where I was?
I stayed 70% of the time in Jaipur. Visited also: Udaipur, Jodhpur, Agra, Delhi and Rishikesh.

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