11 Things You Should Never Say In India

Unsplash | © Aashish R Gautam
Unsplash | © Aashish R Gautam
Photo of Harleen Kalsi
29 August 2017

India is a beautiful country blessed with diverse cultures and traditions that are some of the oldest in human history. While some places in the country are nonchalant and acceptable, others are not so tolerant. Either way, there are certain ‘rules’ you need to adhere to before making small talk with Indians.

“Wow! You know how to speak English?”

This sentence always takes every Indian back to the colonial era joyride. It is so ancient that people should really stop using it. How about accepting the fact that English is now a universal language and is not that big a deal.

“You’ll have an arranged marriage, won’t you?”

This is a stereotype given to the world exclusively by the Bollywood industry. People still have arranged marriages but that doesn’t limit an Indian’s personal life choices only to matrimonial sites. Also, Tinder in India is not frowned upon.

Unsplash | © Pablo Heimplatz

“Do you worship cows?”

Cows in India are considered sacred for plentiful reasons in different cultures. They are not worshipped but are seen in a respectable light due to the cow’s agricultural use and gentle nature. Being a sensitive topic of conversation in India, it is best to avoid this topic.

“You don’t really look Indian, it’s like you’re too pretty to be Indian.”

This is a perfect example of the stereotype being as vague as the place from where these people got their knowledge. What does this even mean? Is this supposed to be a compliment? If so, then this means people who look Indian are in urgent need of a cosmetic surgery.

“I’m not a cricket fanatic.”

Let’s be real here for a minute. Indians don’t really care whether you are a cricket fanatic or not until you start comparing the Indian cricket team to any other team in the world, especially if it is Pakistan and Australia.

“Are you sure, as a woman, you want to travel alone in India?”

Seriously, this is worse than the haunting male ego stereotypes every woman has to go through in modern times. Like every other country, India comes with a guidebook of places you should visit and places you should definitely avoid. There are certain precautions every female must take before embarking on exploring this stunning country.

Unsplash | © Vincent Guth

“I love your accent.”

Thank you, but Indians don’t have an accent. It is a country bounded by different languages and every language is extremely tonal such as Pahari, Malayalam or Punjabi. The English speaking Indian population tends to stress their syllables for coherent pronunciation.

“You are so close to a spiritual awakening.”

These people come in two distinguished categories. They have either seen Eat Pray Love too many times or their basic idea of Indian retreat is carved in stone as a spiritual hippie seeking refuge in the Himalayas. It is true that India is the birthplace of Ayurveda and a precursor of the ancient form of yoga, but not everyone you’ll meet is a wannabe Dalai Lama.

Unsplash | © Matthew Kane

“You’re so exotic.”

So are you to a lot of Indians.

“Tell me the best place to have chicken tikka.”

Yes, herbs are the most important ingredient in traditional Indian cuisines from various parts of the country. They are some of the hottest delicacies in the world, but not everyone eats spicy food, just like the fact that not everyone in India loves chai.

Unsplash | © Igor Ovsyannykov

“How do you survive this soaring temperature and dirt?”

These people are looking for Slumdog Millionaire because that by definition is the face of real India. Avoid bringing up topics like soaring temperatures, sweaty metros, filthy drinking water, and diarrhea-inducing food items being served at the local shops. As third world country participants, we know what’s going on.

It’s not easy to annoy an Indian, but it’s not impossible.

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