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For Commonwealth Games, kissing is touchy

Last updated: 20 August, 2010
New Delhi, Aug 20, DHNS: 1:15 IST

No kissing and hugging and no short clothes when you are in India. Public toilets are very few and filthy, so carry your own tissue papers and always take your shoes off before entering a house.

These are some of the advices on a website called “incredibleairindiapackages.org”, launched specifically for tourists travelling to India during the Commonwealth Games.

The website says: “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 the villages throughout the country.” On handshakes when a man meets a woman, the advice is, “The rule of the thumb is that the female extends her hand first, and the male reciprocates.”

Going further, the website says never ever extend your hand first for a handshake if you are a male and if you are meeting a female. Rather, settle for a humble “namaste.”
And don’t even think about a “peck on the cheek”, which might be the norm in your country, as it is “just not done” here, “unless you happen to be in “Westernised Indian circles” or in “the company of people in the glamour industry such as models and beauty queens” – even then, don’t take the initiative if you are a male.The most important advice? Probably the one about public toilets.

“In India, public toilet facilities are few and far between and outside of 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,” the advisory reads.

The pieces of advice doled out on the site are a mix of what should be done if you are in a liberal or a conservative environment, without specifying that out clearly.

At one point, it has been advised that if you are invited to dinner at someone’s house, you should carry a bottle of wine along with a bouquet of flowers, or at least a box of sweets or chocolate for children, and in the same breath, it has been advised to take off shoes while entering anyone’s home as is it is done “usually”.

Delhi Belly

Visitors have also been advised “never” to buy food from roadside or mobile stalls. “Not that they are necessarily bad, but one’s system may not be accustomed to such delicacies which may result in upset stomach,” it says, reminding the intended visitor of the infamous Delhi Belly.

“For the first few days, it might be advisable to clean your teeth in bottled water,” it says, indirectly telling visitors of the unhealthy water supply that Indians have to regularly deal with.

It further warns the potential visitor that he or she would be “stared at” by Indians because of his or her “different appearance”. This, the site says, could happen more in smaller towns and remote areas. “Please do not be offended as no harm is meant, it is just curiosity,” it says.

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