Moving to India? 12 Things to Keep in Mind

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12 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Came to India

By Dhyan Summers, MA, LMFT

If you’re thinking of moving to India, or if you’ve recently arrived, here are 12 things I wish someone had told me when I first moved to India.

  • You never have to answer a personal (or any) question, just give a ‘head wag’ (side to side movement of head with ear moving towards shoulder, to the other side, and back again, several times in rapid succession.)
  • Forget about personal space. The concept doesn’t exist in India.
  • Men will stare and often they mean nothing by it, but every once in a while they do.
  • If you’re a woman, do not make eye contact with strange men. This is interpreted as an open invitation, to what you don’t want to know.
  • When you ask someone for directions and they give them to you, do NOT assume they know what they’re talking about. Indian men will say anything rather than ‘I don’t know’. (And Indian women are usually not on the road.)
  • Patience is the supreme lesson to be learned here and India is the greatest teacher.
  • A little Hindi goes a very long way.
  • Poverty is omnipresent. You must decide for yourself how you want to deal with beggars. Try making eye contact to recognize a beggar’s humanity, then offer biscuits or something you can carry with you. Or, if you’re walking on the street, avoiding eye contact is advisable; otherwise you’ll be followed by every beggar in town.
  • Buy some Dettol (liquid anti-bacterial soap) and wash your hands frequently. For sure, every time you come in from outside.
  • Let go and laugh. You’re probably not going to change the situation anyway.
  • Chaos is the rule. Throw order out the window.
  • Shop till you drop; it’s one of the best things to do in India.

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