19 December, 2009

Indian Gestures 1

 Divali Market at Night

If an adult, your child or someone else’s child falls down and gets hurt, the Indian’s normal response is to laugh.  A British friend told me that he was a pilot in India during World War II. "You'll never believe this," he said, "one day one of the repair men walked into the propellers by mistake and lost his head. All his friends started laughing hysterically. I couldn't believe it." That had to be shocking, but it doesn’t mean the colleagues thought what happened was funny. It was so horrible they didn't know what to do or say, and instead they laughed.This is a reaction of nervousness or horror.

If you come from a culture that looks everyone in the eye, you will also have problems in India. Indians do not look you in the eye. They find it confrontational, not honest. If a woman looks a man in the eye it is a come on. So try to avoid eye-to-eye contact. Instead you can glance at the person.

Don’t be surprised if your servant touches your feet. This is a sign of respect. You'll see it done at weddings, when young people touch the feet of their parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. I am very uncomfortable still when someone touches my feet, so I know that you will feel strange. Just smile.

When you want someone to come, do not use your index finger in a come here gesture. Hold your hand up high with the palm down and move all your fingers together in a come here position. Using one’s index finger is only used for animals and prostitutes.

The head waggle can mean almost anything. Most of the time I have noticed that it means the person is listening to what you say. It does not necessarily mean they agree with you. So be sure to ask before you assume anything.

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