1. In India, it is considered a sign of great rudeness to point at someone or something with one finger. If you want to do this, use all the fingers of an open palm at once, or just your thumb. You should also avoid touching objects or people with your feet as they (the feet) are considered unclean.
2. Before making the trip to India, you can learn a few phrases in Hindi. Although many Indians know English, they will be pleased to hear a foreigner speak their native language. However, if an Indian knows English to a satisfactory level, he would prefer to speak it, since knowledge of the international language in India is considered a sign of intelligence and good education. This is highly valued in India.
3. You should not stretch out your hand for a handshake to the opposite sex. A handshake in such cases is permissible only if the person himself extends his hand. Body language in India is very different from that in the Western world. Women are not to touch men and vice versa. Even shaking hands with members of the opposite sex is not allowed. A light, meaningless touch to the arm or shoulder of a person of the opposite sex during a regular conversation is considered intimate and may be misinterpreted. Consequently, you can get into an awkward situation. On the other hand, in the working environment, a handshake between men and women has long become conventional. When meeting with the Indians, the universal symbol of a warm greeting will be a wide sincere smile, as well as shaking hands with him using both of your hands.
In India, people speak more than a hundred languages. Hindi is the most common language, followed by Bengali, Tamil, Urdu, and others. Many Indians …
5. You do not have to give money to beggars on the streets, even if they look completely miserable. Many of them work for local criminal groups, and the money of a generous tourist will be spent on God knows what. You must be prepared for the fact that beggars attack any person resembling a tourist twice as hard – because the locals are well aware of their deception, and a foreigner will be easier to obtain money from. There are many charity organizations in India and should you want to help those in need, you can make a donation to any of such organizations. In this way, you can be sure that your money will go to help those who really need it.
6. Indians treat all books, newspapers, and paper in general with great respect. These items symbolize knowledge and learning, so you should not throw away or carelessly handle books and paper, and even more so, step on them.
8. You had better not hire a taxi right on the street as this is the surest way to be deceived and pay exorbitantly. Such taxi drivers usually do not use counters and charge whatever amount comes to their head, knowing that a foreigner is unlikely to know how much the trip should actually cost. When leaving the hotel, you can ask the staff to call a taxi for you. It is also safe to order a taxi from the airport.
9. Street shoes must be removed before going into homes. In temples and mosques likewise, you need to take them off. You should bear in mind that foreigners may not be allowed into certain zones of temples since these are places for believers who come to pray for help, and not for curious tourists.
10. Indians eat mostly with their hands. They usually use their right hand for eating and take food from the general dish with their left hand. This is essential so that saliva from the right hand does not get into the common dish. The left hand is generally considered unclean because it is used in the toilet. You should, therefore, avoid passing things and touching people or articles with it. It is inappropriate to even make gestures with the left hand.
11. Do not drink water from the tap. Only water in sealed bottles is drinkable. You should avoid buying food on the street, so as not to get stomach upset. The same applies to fresh fruits and vegetables that cannot be peeled. Swimming in rivers, even those considered sacred, is not worth it, as their sacred status does not make them any cleaner.
In large, colorful and noisy India, merchants wait for customers at every corner. Here it is pretty difficult for tourists to make the right choice …
13. It is better not to discuss religion at all. If however, you are already talking about it, it is advisable to show respect and not make any comments, especially negative ones, even if someone’s beliefs seem completely ridiculous. To show respect, you can ask a few questions about the faith of your interlocutors. Indicating interest is considered a sign of respect and will always be nice.
14. It is strictly forbidden to cause any damage to nature, especially animals. Hindus will become enraged if someone dares to disrespect a cow, as they consider this animal sacred.
15. Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking in public places as this is considered a sign of rudeness and bad manners.