Etiquette in India vs America

Etiquette in India – Completely different from USA – My experience

In Living in US by KumarUpdated : 106 Comments

I heard so many things from my friends, who worked in India, that corporate life in India is much different from America…I never had a chance to experience it as I left to America right after my undergrad…incidentally, our company has off-shore development center in India and I am here in India experiencing the corporate life for the past couple of months…I have so many experiences to write comparing American vs. Indian way…Let me start off with etiquette in India vs. America.

Folks, I got to tell you, first few weeks were super crazy…people were driving me nuts all the time…As I have lived in America for quite some time, I had lot of assumptions and expectations from people, which was common etiquette in USA…Unfortunately, things are different in India, etiquette is completely different…below are few instances…

Etiquette – Holding doors, Opening doors, Acknowledging

Well, in America it is common etiquette to hold the door, if someone is coming behind you…you never slam the door on their face…Guess what ? Most of the people slam doors on your face all the time in India…It is not just in my experience, I have observed outside as well…If you have a lady in front of you, you try to open the door for her in America and hold it for her…she would acknowledge with a Thank you…but seems to me, it does not work like that in India, I have not noticed it…In America, people acknowledge you for holding a door or opening a door with a Thank you gesture, but I have not seen anything here in India….I was polite and tried to follow the same, no one acknowledges…you are just one stupid guy holding the door for someone…In America, if you see someone 10 feet away, behind you, you would hold the door for them to come up to door, they would rush to you and acknowledge with Thank you, nothing here….no one holds the door, no one acknowledges…Initially, it was a little weird…now I got used to it…

Greeting people in India on Corridor, Elevator vs. America

I am used to greeting random people in America…it is a very common thing to say “Hi, How are you ?” to a stranger on street or in an elevator in US…I do not see many people greeting random people in India…it is weird, not many people even smile at each other…everyone stares at other person with a weird serious face and walk past each other…it is even worse if you come across a female…unfortunately, I think guys feel  different cues in India if a female smiles at them…so, women seldom smile at strangers or say Hi…It is very common in America for strangers to talk about random topics in elevator like weather or about football game previous night…Unlike, when you are in an elevator here in India, people just stare at each other and everyone are silent with weird expression on their face…in any case, what I have noticed is, people are a little uptight about greeting and smiling at strangers…

You should read my previous article : Etiquette in America, How people greet to get more info on how it works in USA

What are your experiences  in India ? What do you think about etiquette in India  ?




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Comments ( 106 )

  1. Kumara

    Thanks alot to god…trump is now rescue, u kind of indians..lolz..oops sorry right now u might be american citizen in 2017, so i guess indian origin right now, soon adopting white parents or i guess already adopted to learn much more etiquettes..:D

  2. Rajender

    I have been living in the USA for the last 15 years and I made some observations about Indian society that you don’t see in North America.
    Indians spit on the road, blow their nose on the road with bare hands and wipe their hands to their shirt or pants (if they don’t have a handkerchief), and pee on the streets pretty much everywhere. Many Indians eat ghutka and pan (this makes their saliva red) and spit on the stairs of pretty much every building. They even spit from running buses. They stick bills to the walls/gates everywhere, distribute pamphlets and throw them on the streets. They don’t greet others with respect, never apologize or say “thanks” or “please”. They stare too much without even nodding their head. Indian men stare at women too much as if they never saw women in their life. They like talking about others too much and they just never respect others’ choice. Indians love talking and they can talk for 24/7 without getting tired. And they talk really loud and don’t have any concern for others who are in their surroundings.

    The driving skills of Indians are the worst. They honk on the streets all the time, never use indicators and sometimes even fight on the streets if they are in collision. They never drive in the lanes and always drive on the line separating the lanes. The space between the big vehicles is filled with motorbikes, but this is not the kind of lane splitting that you see in other Asian countries. Much horrible here. Three Indian cities are amongst the top 10 noisiest cities in the world (1.Mumbai, 2.Calcutta and 4.Delhi). People ride their motorbikes while talking on the phone (not with bluetooth). So reckless people. They throw trash from the windows of a car/bus/train, you name it. They would even do it from the flight, if they had a chance. They just don’t have any respect for the rules. They think it’s really cool to break the rules. Most of the cities don’t have any walkways for pedestrians. If there is any space, street vendors occupy and they get away with it because of corrupt police and municipal personnel.

    People become fans of movie stars based on the caste and these fans even fight among themselves to support their movie stars. People even die in the queues on the first day of movie release, just because of stampede in the queue.

    Indians never form a proper queue ANYWHERE. Jumping the queues is very common even in the well-off and most educated community. This happens even in the airports while taking boarding pass. If they ever stand in a queue they stand so close that genitals and belly touch the bum of the person standing in the front. So disgusting.

    Calling people as “sir” and “madam” is a very common practice in India just to please them. Can be called ass kissers. If you are rich you get a different treatment by Indians and if you are poor, people don’t tend to respect you.

    During the elections, politicians have road shows blocking all the streets. They don’t have any concern for people.
    India is the home for many languages, religions, cultures etc., but all Indians are same in terms of their behavior mentioned above. Maybe that’s why people say “unity in diversity”.
    Now, a few good things about India. You get pretty much everything in India and the service is really cheap. Indian food is the most delicious food in the world. Saying it after trying many cuisines. There is one thing that I’ve never seen anywhere else. When you buy something online, you can select an option to pay through “cash on delivery”. It means you can pay to the delivery guy when he delivers the item at your doorstep. Unique Indian culture (never see anything like Indian culture anywhere in the world, except for the Indian subcontinent), Hindu religion (oldest religion, Hindu religion = way of living life rather than a religion), contributions of Indians to medicine/mathematics, languages (Sanskrit being the mother of most of the European languages), food, classical dance forms, ayurvedic medicine etc. make me feel so proud that I was born as an Indian. But, I don’t feel proud when I think about the acts of present day Indians.

  3. upen

    Greetings, thank you and sorry is part of expression it’s not the actual intention which means having a thankful ness inside your heart is different than expressing it. Expression comes with various reason like how the people are grown. It is does not mean that they are not feeling thankful to your help.
    This develops with grownup culture and many parameters.
    Do one thing, get yourself injured and see how many Indians will come to you to help.
    Not saying thank you, sorry means they don’t have that kind of expression developed in their life for whatsoever reason which does not really means they are not thankful.

    Hope you got the difference.

    1. Roy

      It’s because the English have ruled the world that the Wnglish etiquette is the internationally accepted code of etiquette.
      Both Indians and Westerners would find each other very weird and not understand each other which is ok as their ways of living are so different. This causes unnecessary stupid issues to come up that makes each other appear rude,where they actually arent .
      Americans would find Indian things like not giving privacy to family members,staring too too much ,not greeting people or saying please and thanks ,jumping queues and eating with fingers as completely well-mannered behaviour.
      Even Indians find American things like wearing shoes in houses,calling teachers /parents just by name or wiping the bum instead of washing them a complete uncultured kinda behaviour.
      It’s tough for each of these 2 ethnicities to really get together as they cant understand each other.

  4. Chandan

    Nicely put!

    Another important thing for cell phone users: While its OK in India to stare at your phone while talking to someone, in US it will be perceived as a sign of gross dis-interest. Also, one must keep their cellphones muted while in office. In fact, in one such incident I saw people literally standing up from their seats to see a ringing phone. 😀

    Also, I believe the cultural contrast is now becoming more and more faint. I can feel the difference between my earlier visit (around 3.5 years ago) and now.

    Thank you!

  5. Catherine

    thank you for the many different points of view expressed here, it is very helpful for me to learn about the many possible perspectives depending on where one is from, and the different experiences one has had. I am from California I grew up in a big city of San Francisco where I was taught to be friendly by saying a short greeting , “hello” or ” good afternoon” as I walked by a neighbor. We were not taught to ignore people, but to smile or even wave. How ever we were also taught to be careful about lingering with adult men we did not know and to avoid giving out personal information such as where we lived because of safety concerns.
    I understand that in a very crowded place you may not greet everyone, but a quick smile or nod of head is ok. Also you will be careful of safety when feeling nervous around people who seem unfriendly or up to something bad. We were taught to leave immediately any place where crime is being done — public drinking, drugs, shouting. But we were also taught always to help injured people with CPR or first aide.
    this morning I saw a lady whom i have noticed several times before walking past my house, she was dressed as though she was from India, long ebroidered tunic over pants, with scarf. I always smiled at her before but I wanted to greet her so I just said HELLO in English and smiled bigger! She smiled back. She stopped walking and we stood together. I handed her a big purple dahlia, pink rose, and apricot coloured rose from my flower containers and said she was welcome to pick them any time. I pointed to my self and said my name is Catherine and I pointed to her? She said her name and smiled also. She said she was from Mumbai, but she didn’t speak any more English and I didn’t speak any more Indian languages. We smiled as she walked on and I wen t back into my house.
    The language and etiquette may have been totally wrong, but because we WANTED to be friendly I think we can learn to be friends.
    I looked at the postings here to see if I could find advice how to be friendly and polite to her. I will also take the time to learn how to say hello in her language and possibly invite her to have tea or lemonaide with me next time.

    Maybe you can’t be friends with every one every where, but I think we can start by looking for one little safe person who is a little different from our self and try to be kind, and branch out form there.

  6. Bhuva

    1) Indians are friendly , warm and welcoming. They let you into their homes, hearts and lives.
    2) They are sincere and genuine. When they say hi, how are you doing ? It is not just a meaningless greeting. They are actually interested and open to help in any way if at all required without any expectations. So it is not customarily extended to strangers.
    3) Thankyou is for those rare moments when people go above and beyond expectation. If I were to say thankyou to my mom for taking care of my kid for a couple of hours, she would actually be offended . Similarly she would never say sorry for intrusions as it would be her right as she cares for us. As someone mentioned, our family and friends are mere extensions of who we are, open to sharing and caring. Our children are raised by the whole community of parents, grandparents, neighbours and friends without need for permission or thought of favour.
    4) This is the India I grew up in. It is changing now to more of the superficial sorries, thankyous, permissions, favours and formal greetings which lack depth or love. It pains me.

  7. Arian

    Yes this is on the dot of what you speak. But it is mixed depending where you are. I want not go about India bashing now cos it is so easy with a billion people in the play. Let’s just say a large part of India is developing. We have many people coming just out of poverty line into lower middle class and lower Middle to upper middle. High quality education occurs at upper middle and rich so that has for now left 1 billion out of it. Soon…

    1. Renuka

      i agree to you. out sider have much more manners then Indians being an Indian i m telling u as i experienced out sider r much mannered and have netiquettes which Indians don’t have but in hospitality Indians out beat all. indian man will offer u coffee too if u come to meet but out sider doesn’t have that courtesy to offer nor ask for dinner in dinner time instead says i am full.

  8. Burke

    I have been away for a while, so I did not see how Kumar’s etiquette inquiry had twisted into some kind of an indictment of others. Instead of contributing to learning, some find it easier to attack the messenger with “Oh yea, you guys are worse!”

    There is no need to cover the social ills of the United States when I simply related my experiences and questions concerning the Indian people’s response to mostly polite gestures. Attacking the whole country helps no one.

    But since you brought it up, I expect those of you who moved to the United States researched the place. We have taxes. We have expensive health care. In fact, drug makers tend to charge twice the going rate they charge in other countries. We appear to have laws that seem unfair. In America, we lobby our leaders to change bad laws. Do that, or fight to get the story on CNN.

    And we have a political system that can resemble a carnival side show.

    Not perfect, but this a pretty nice place to live.

    My parents taught me to thank people when they did something for me, no matter how small. Therefore the matter does not seem complicated to me. I respectfully made my comments and asked my questions.

    Maybe you think it odd that I am willing to learn about the Indian people. To me, that is part of being an American. Would you rather I stereotype al l Indian people as rude and self-serving? I will not do that.

    I thank Kumar for relaying his story and asking the question. I enjoyed reading notes from the people that made honest attempts to address Kumar’s observations.

      1. Burke

        Thanks Kumar.

        I apologize for personalizing your communication chain, but I have one more incident to report…

        This very afternoon I was exiting a building at work when two twenty-something India ladies were coming the other direction. I held the door for them and one said thank you.

        The coworker I was with asked me why I was smiling.

      2. Alwynn

        Sample size.

        Hi Kumar, Burke:
        A revealing discussion here! Some comments may have touched a nerve with some readers, but this is very educational!
        1) I trained some Asian and Indian students and they wanted to learn scripting languages. They had a homework due the next day. They requested me to stay over and teach them, and I was only an RA. That night, the Asian students went through my overnight bag, borrowed stuff and I was livid.

        2)When my car broke down I did not buy another right away, and the post doc gave me a ride. He was Asian. He chided me on not buying a car and asking for rides!! It was personal. I thanked him for the ride.

        3)Another RA gave me a ride and I bought him some pastries. My lab mate, an Asian woman, asked me why I did that!

        It took me a while to digest that they did not feel the need to ask for permission or to thank or repay. No matter where you are from ingratitude is plain wrong. I hold doors open, thank people and follow up with a thank you note. It got me some very good responses.
        Thank you for reading, I would appreciate your feedback. Please follow me on Twitter @johnny20201.

        The next time they asked for help , I refused, very politely.

        1. administrator

          You had some interesting experiences. I agree “ingratitude is plain wrong”…sometimes it is cultural and we have to be conscious when judging a person. I work with people and customer across the globe and try to adapt to their culture as I go, some things cannot be said or done in some cultures…if you are cognizant of that fact, it makes everyone happy, including you !

          1. Alwynn

            Kumar, Burke:
            The dialogue here is very enlightening.
            Some cultures expect you to drink. Some expect you will enjoy their exotic meats.
            University life prepares you for an international collaboration and I am very aware of that. Holding the door open for others, like you pointed out, or helping with heavy bags or standing up in a crowded bus for the frail is just basic decency. I will never get over the shock of facing rude comments from my international peers, when I was tryingto be gentle and kind.

            I have seen it the other way as well: a student left after her thesis was “scooped.” Had I been her mentor, given how hard-working she was, I would have helped her. She left half way through her work. This has so little to do with culture, just basic decency is enough. Oh well… that professor does not have international students anymore!
            TYVM for the commitment you show to your readers, their comments.
            @johnny20201 on Twitter!

          2. administrator

            Alwynn, You are right, sad to hear about the student you mentioned. Except few, most of the professors are very helpful. I guess, we cannot expect everyone to be good, it is life! It is my pleasure to read, learn something new and respond 🙂

    1. anotherIndianinUS!

      being an Indian who has been in US for couple of years, i would agree with your observations…
      Just like any other place, India has some great points, and some not so great ones… but i would say you are right on this one…
      We dont interact with strangers the same way people in US do… cold stares are common, and probably a good thing too some times, cause you never know who is trying to take advantage of whom! so its intrinsically an DONT trust strangers culture, and those dictate the etiquettes in many cases

  9. OtherSideOfCoin

    Mr Bruke.. you have talked enough about the good greetings , holding the door etc .. hey dont you think u missed something here.. the information that you provided here is not complete.. you did not mention when white ( gora) gets angry
    what he says ” you POS”.. lol
    sometime “you SOB”
    well the list goes on ..
    come on dude get this etiquette man..
    your one side of the story made a lot of ppl to waste time here..
    i am not saying its not in india , but what really makes america favorable in terms of etiquette ..

  10. cold Facts

    here is the link that shows USA is #1 in crime rate.. think real and pay heed to facts.. personal intuition and guess is risky most of the time.. coz knowledge without facts is imperfect and incomplete..

  11. cold Facts

    i have been in USA for 15 years.. Don’t get ever trapped in something which looks so cosmetic and artificial from outside ..because this is the harsh core reality about America..

    America etiquette

    use and throw attitude
    high domestic violence , lot of divorces..
    lot of crimes , theft , burglary , harassment
    cheating and ripp off to make money..
    lot of games , gimmicks politics ..
    cold racism behind the scene in offices
    no emotional attachment , no helping attitude .. fake and artificial sense but no real thing..

    Government issues :
    Cant sell your home anytime .. if sale with in 2 years .. have to pay 20% taxes on capital gain ( this is open looting in America)
    everything is taxable .. sucking your hard earned money like bed bugs..This is not the case at all in India..

    bureaucrats mindset to make money from immigrants.non immigrants , huge inflation in America , rents , property values gone up .. cant live a peaceful life in america .. India is peaceful in that regards .. at least can have a flat of 30 lakhs and live it there life long without paying taxes , insurance and other craps.. no worry . so state taxes .. no federal taxes..and no bull..No taxes on food and grocery either..

    Buying a land in America so full of hassle .. too many to list..
    things are pretty cool in india..easy to buy and sale …

    this is the harsh reality about America.. American etiquette is like a packaged snake can come out any time and bite you ..

    India is far better .. good life .. not too many taxes and restrictions from government.. good education..

    Now a country with so many core problems .. saying ” HI , Hello ” holding the door for some one .. Does that mean anything or does it really matter..

    1. jewelIndia

      Well Said , Cold facts
      just to add on top of that .. no easy way to get hospital treatments
      out of pocket limit is too high.. health coverage is pathetic in USA
      just a basic care is terrible..
      you definately cant beat india in that regard .. any time walkin to hospitals .. no insurance looting .. even free basic care is available
      what a relief..

    2. Get out of USA

      why are you still sticking to the US then…it took you 15 years to realize that America is not fit for you?
      pack your bags and leave!
      come back to the awesome land of India!

      1. cold Facts

        it does not take 15 years to know these facts about america ..
        they are pretty common and know to most of the people
        i just shed light on the comparision between india and america
        based on my experience ..deciding to live in a country is individual’s choice.. that country may be bad or good..

        1. Get out of USA

          Every country has their own problems. You just choose the best fit for you and live your life.
          There is no heaven on earth!
          Can you let me know which are the good countries on earth and the reason why you chose to be in a bad country like the US?

          1. cold Facts

            this discussion is about etiquette.. not about living.. etiquette has nothing to do about choosing a country where to live .. there are numerous factors that influence individual’s decision where to live and that’s not this thread for ..and that what my exact point is .. America is no better than India when it comes to etiquette.. my reply is to the original post where the author has highlighted the good etiquette about get this right .. understand the thread first and then comment..

          2. Rohan

            I agree with cold facts. People stay in US for variety of reasons. In my opinion, 90 % of Indians don’t stay in US because they love it, they are afraid of going back. Make India little better-by that I mean not only standard of living but opportunities in research and scientific fields, then see how many indians return!

            Etiquette has nothing to do with your personal, professional or academic satisfaction. I have specifically included academic as that’s something that bring most people here. What was my reason, I wanted to learn more about wireless communication, electromagnetic waves and after my B.Tech i was sided on an IT job!

            In US, after good education I am working on research position at a satellite company. I can switch to other positions, companies or roles much easier than in India. I am 24 and it has been 4 years since I came to US. I have observed people have reasons to stay in US- Some people have kids/grandkids here because they waited to go back, a couple i knew left US for India in 1980’s but came back because one of them was diagnosed with cancer and in 1980’s India’s medical facilities weren’t that great, some people like job here and some people just like comfort and money.

            I was very excited before coming to US. I was happy to take a small step towards my dreams-study what i craved for most in my life. We have some relatives in US who came to India very often at our house. Most of them are ABCD aka american born Indians. They show open affection, smile and like they are your best buddies/well wishers. I was nervous of going to a new country but thought I have a caring family out there.

            I came to US and shortly suffered a major road accident. I had 4 surgeries in 2 weeks. My Indian friends in school stood by me all the time. My american relatives just posted a get well soon on facebook, called for 5 mins and that was it. No help, no guidance nothing. They were secretly worried i would come to stay with them and destroy their personal life.

            People do help here but only if its a short encounter (Like asking directions). They won’t go an extra mile. I have got a lot from this country at personal and professional level but lost a lot of trust, been through emotionally traumatizing times especially after road accident and people’s attitude.

            I apologize if someone finds my answer biased, prejudiced, stereotypical or rudimentary.

  12. Gail

    I am a Canadian living in Mumbai now with my Indian husband. I came from small town Ontario Canada. I have been here 4 months. In service places like restuarants, salons and doctors. Manners and friendliness are great.
    Not the same on the street, neighbourhood, shops etc. Grim and not too often a smile back. I am used to people in Canada friendly and helpful. It is easy to make friends. Have a short convo.
    Here not the same at all. There also is a lot of spiritual rituals but not really much true spirituality or generosity .

    1. Shepherd

      Mam, People in streets will not talk to you unless they know you. May be the people u meet, have been busy with there own work. if you are going to work,some classes, market etc, you can make friends over there and hv conversation. India is friendly country. You will know it when you make friends around you. Take care mam. Even if you need friend you can contact me also( in social media like fb, what’s app etc), cause I was also like you when I moved to new state. I can understand how u would feel.

  13. AP

    Just exchanging pleasantries doesn’t mean the person is friendly. It’s just a culture thing. I live in US and I couldn’t care less if anybody says hi , hello ( or any such greetings ) to me , in fact I find it too cosmetic and artificial.

    As one of the comments say that you have to live in a small town USA to know what the real USA is. It’s a racist country at the end of the day where you will be judged by the color of your skin.

    People in India may not say Hi , Hello , sorry etc at the drop of the hat , but are extremely warm and helpful.

    Even with all the problems , India is still home and nothing can beat it when it comes to love and warmth.

  14. Ashok

    And bruke, you should go and you have to join with the people who wanted too join or ask them the doubt you commended here. What you’re saying is like this……
    If you have doubt in your subjects you should go the teacher and ask , Shouldn’t expect teacher to come and ask you.they won’t do it.

    1. Burke

      I truly want to understand what you wrote, but cannot.
      It is evident that cultures are clashing here in this forum.
      Since writing my initial statement, I have found that I still say please and thank you to the people at work who are from India. They continue to ignore me.
      After reading the anger generated here, I know that I need to let it go and move on.
      Americans of my era expect new immigrants to assimilate and integrate their culture into the melting pot. Maybe that takes a generation to achieve.
      I appreciate the comments received, angry or not.

  15. Meghana Manjunath

    I find this whole topic of discussion strange and unnecessary. Keeping what standards im mind are we discussing ‘etiquette’? Isn’t it dictated by the cultures and traditions of the society that people live in?
    I know that the author is just posting differences and Indians could do with expressing more gratitude but I’m pretty sure its a two-way street. Indians might find things like Americans wearing shoes inside the house or eating with both hands or addressing elders by their name a complete lack of etiquette so what I fail to understand is what this international code of etiquette is that was decided upon in some imaginary etiquette meeting where all men must hold doors open for women every time and be thanked for it, or that everyone must cheerily greet everyone else they meet on an elevator or on the road.

    I think everyone should read this excellent analysis of societies and that would help understand this ‘lack of etiquette’.

  16. Shiva

    Bro, let me make you clear.
    You cannot expect Hi, Hello, etc, From people living in India.
    They don’t talk to strangers, unless they have something to say.
    And India is a country of many languages, find out what language they speak where you are living and learn the language to speak that language.
    So that you can make friends and also you can know what they are talking abt u behind ur back.
    Without friends you cannot live in india, if you live also you will find everything different, boring and weird.
    I’m an south Indian and I don’t know abt north india.
    Well you will find this funny, but it’s true, when u live in South India and if u go to north india, u will find north as different country from South(even food, language, etc.).
    Some people out here in bus stand, railway station, airport will stare at you because they rarely see foreigners and if they do stare at u don’t think they are racist to you.( well some may mostly not all).
    don’t just be joining with your country people, you also join with indians and speak with them with there language.

    Once you make friends with indians your lifestyle starts to change, and the weird thing look like normal things.

    I know south Indian’s are very friendly and social, make friends and enjoy your life if you are living in India.

    Yes you cannot find things you had in ur country country but u will find what is necessary to live (like love, affection, kindness, helping nature, every thing only by family and friends) and yes you can cannot find honesty in any people here.

    Lastly and again, if u r joining only with ur friends of ur own country you cannot expect indian people to be friends with you. Once you become friends with people here ur characters also changes from bad to good or good to worse. You enjoy only if you have friends.

    Mostly people in cities may be racist to you and they don’t know what is enjoyment , but people from town (like in -between city villages)are not like that, if you join with them you will enjoy like anything and you will be free to do anything. When some festival comes u will be able to dance in road with friends and others(not like something lifting your hands up in air and saying balai balai…. Well yes u can do it also but only in North india not in South )you can dance as you want. Etc,etc. If you wanna know anything else just ask me by commenting.

    Okay 5n, bye guys.

  17. Burke

    A few experiences with people from India leads me to believe something is different culturally with the words “thank you”.
    I have been in airport lines waiting to check in with Indian families pressing to pass others to get ahead in line. I can think of two such experiences.
    On a flight from England to the US, I was in the aisle seat with two Indians (mother and adult son) on the window. In an eight-hour flight, they each went to the restroom three times, usually waking me. Not one “thank you.” Near the end of the flight, the son signaled me one last time. I gave him a firm lecture pointing out that they had not thanked me a single time. All I received was a blank stare. I knew he spoke English. Thank I let him out. (No thank you when he returned, of course. I am sure that I had not made a friend.)
    Today I opened a store entrance door for two Indian women. They passed me and walked out as though I did not exist. I nearly said “you’re welcome” as they walked away.
    Yes, my sample is small, but there is something to these culture differences.

    1. administrator

      Yes Burke, you are right. It is very cultural and people do not acknowledge the gesture of saying Thank you as eitquette. When I travel in India, after living in US, I experience the same and get frustrated at time…But, one thing I can tell you, it is starting to change. You see the changes in big cities and corporate world, where people are starting to learn the etiquette. Hopefully in few years !

    2. Apoorva

      Dear Burke,
      I am an Indian so I’d like to clear a bit.
      It’s not like Indians don’t greet eachother or something, it’s just that most people are underconfident (or have an attitude issue).
      Like I remember an incident when I was a kid (6 years or something) and I was with my mother in Belgium’s Airport where an Indian lady was travelling all by herself so while taking her luggage she got a bit nervous because of the conveyor belt and looked helpless, so a man came to help her and after helping her with the luggage she left, without any “thank you” or a friendly smile. She just looked down and went. I myself found that really odd but it’s just something a few Indians are not pretty used to. Maybe it’s their lack of exposure or confidence.
      But I can assure you that not every Indian is like that. People do greet eachother and if you’ve helped someone or something like that then I am pretty sure that most people will thank you, some might even thank you everytime you meet them.

      1. Burke

        My comments were related to a small sample, but I did not get the impression that they any lacked confidence.
        The people in line wanted to crowd others out. The people on the plane were polite to ask to get up, but never saw a reason to say anything more. The two ladies at the store simply walked on by.
        Your points are well taken though.
        There are a good many Indian foreign nationals in my work place. They stay to themselves. Neither polite or rude, they seem to lack the curiosity to explore outside of what they know. I find that frustrating in that I am curious about their culture but they do not help carry conversations. I find them puzzling.

        1. Shiva

          Bruke, why do you want to speak to the person who does not want to have conversation with you. If you see anyone again doing like that you just know that they don’t know what is manners and you ignore them.

          1. Burke

            You cannot learn from others without engagement. The separation you suggest plays into the political narrative that people will not assimilate into American culture and should go back where they came from. I refuse to fall into that mindset.

          2. Ashok

            crazy people. You don’t know what is the meaning of thanks.You also don’t know why, when and where it is used and it should be used. Expecting thanks for every simple thing. First try to understand what is the meaning of thanks and if you understand, worth it. This is all I or anyone who knows the meaning of it, can tell you. Waste of time arguing with you people.

  18. marla

    I stumbled upon this blog only because i google “why don’t indian men open doors for women”. i figured it was a culture thing. I live in US but we have a significant number of contractors that work here who are from india. Well now i know why.

  19. Raghav

    oh by the way , ettiquettes……yes saying, hi, please, thank you, how’re you goin, how’r u doin etc etc….cheers mate, howdy etc etc….no we aren’t that cheerful here in India. We can be content, but not cheerful, if an Indian acted too cheery in India, he is inviting trouble for himself, as in attracting too much attention for him/herself, you will be judged as overconfident. Once u look too confident, people would want to find out what makes you so happy/confident/proud etc(behind your back, they’ll find out about you)., and then when they find nothing, they are likely to think, that you are a show off. India is a culture where you will find a better comfort level, if you are more on the cowardly side/ docile/humble, we are kind of puny. We are defenitely not the ‘stand up for the right’ samaritan types that western people tend to be as a culture.

  20. Raghav

    India today is where England was in the 17th or 18th century.

    We Indians tend to have an over estimation and glorification of how great or good our culture is(was), trust me, it is bad, we are the sprouted seed of our own diseased culture. It will take 2 or 3 more centuries of evolution to set us right(if at all we improve). This seed was not sown by Britain, or colonial powers, it’s been sown as the very nature of us, to copulate too much, without accountability, there’s something that makes a species of humans that for millenia has been cheating itself, and will continue to do so. Responsibility, accountability and systemization, three essentials that caucasian nations naturally have it, even mongloids(Japanese and Chinese,Koreans have it), we don’t have it. these recipes within the human mind are what churns champion nations out of these people and failure states out of south Asian races. Unfortunate, but India will never become what swanky consultancy economists predict it to be, we’ll ruin ourselves before that.

    1. atheist

      You’re stupid.
      Such comments generally come from poor & uneducated morons who can’t afford even a little peak into the lives of upper MIDDLE class people.

  21. Ria

    I don’t understand why do we get so aggressive or hyped up whenever someone critiques or just makes comments or puts up their opinions? Why can’t we show our nationalistic spirit elsewhere where it is needed?
    Anyways the writer is just putting his opinion, his experience..he hasn’t mentioned anything that is mocking India or even insulting it. He just writer about the shocking culture differences and that’s totally fine.
    We aren’t displaying good etiquette either by being so narrow minded about it.
    We don’t have to agree but we can just learn to ignore it.

    1. CommonSense

      I totally agree with Ria. The writer is only pointing out the differences between the two cultures. Those who are getting upset over this either don’t get the point or cannot tolerate other people’s comments. Regardless of country, religion, race, background — ingratitude is plain wrong.

      In my company, there is a large number of Indian contractors. Some of the things that they do show their ill manners. “Some” examples are:

      – Often times they steal other peoples food from the refrigerators.
      – They smell bad.
      – They communicate with other Indians in their language even if it’s a group discussion going on and most people in the group are non-Indians.
      – They make the entire office smell of curry which is not appreciated by their non-Indian coworkers.

      Now tell me which culture would encourage to do these things?

      I would not be surprised to get negative responses to my post — some of the readers will again miss the point 🙂

  22. Abilash

    There is no need to learn anything even the etiquette. Except the roads and politicians every thing is good in India. Some one taken the example as Indra Nooyi, with saying it is not possible in India. See our madam sonia Gandhi, JayaLalitha, Mamatha Benerjee they are leading crores of people in India, Being in India. Stop blaming in public forums, if required join in politics try to do some good things.

    1. Palzzzz

      Hi Kumar..I recently moved to USA.. I feel I am on the land on strangers..
      Where neighbors are unknown..During accident people dont help..
      Just smiling and talking to strangers for few minutes doesnt show that USA has good ettiquets..People here are racist at times and rude too..

      I dont think you are working in good our office only one person was allowed to use Door Access Card at a time..because I stayed in Pune..offices and work culture,infrastructures and festive celebrations in office are fantabulous. Which is great Missing factor in offices here..You wont find beautiful infrastructure here..Infy had basket ball,Swimming Pool, office campus..Can USA office beat that..To reduce traffic /car pool and car gas..Company has arranged their own private buses..considering the security of gals too..

      Work in good Indian Company before commenting on public site…Its the truth..

    2. Jaspreet

      You are prooving her corect dude, that we Indians have no etiquettes and that we are not Polite.
      Infact, I am an Indian and i think that she is right on these points, she is not blaming India, she is just expressing her views, which she is free to do.
      Even if she is blaming India and thinks that India not right,, doesn’t make any difference, i still welcome her and express her views.
      coz of people like u the World says that Indians are rude/arrogant.
      Believe me , the World says it.


    Holding doors and Smiling at a stranger i agree its a good attitude, but in INDIA holding door for others not everyone do that and we don’t know that you practiced this in America, but when you ask someone why you don’t do it, they will not reply as we learn not to speak to strangers. That’s been followed blindly here… Smiling again inviting stranger to speak to you… try to laugh at Taxi and road sellers they will keep bugging you all the time… people here desperately looking for love and if you show it… you will be targeted all the time… no mischief you will feel uncomfortable… not in cities but for sure this is a crime in villages….

  24. Yeshi

    Both countries have their pros and cons. Sorry bi ja ji, I need to disagree respectfully; in one town in H.p., where we lived, it took me sometimes 30 minutes to walk to the bus stop. It’s a five minute walk…so many people said hello, strangers too. It has happened in Delhi too. I am a single mum and at that time, my child was 6,7,&8. I felt blessed. Many brothers, sisters, aunties, and uncles helped wherever we went.

    People did hold doors for us.

    I don’t know what India you are reffering to, but the India I know has been kind to us.

  25. Abilash

    AS the point came up, I want to share my experience.

    When I am in India, Even though I was not Even greet the people to strangers. I will be reached the office by public transportation, Where the huge crowd will hardly get the place to seat. So i was struggled how to stand, with out disturbing others.
    When i came to office gate every one will comes at same time, so people will continuously comes. And Already i am late. So i was not hold. Mostly i will come with my friends or roommates i will be in chat while coming. There is bunch of crowd waiting for Elevator. mostly 12 to 13 people in elevator. I can not wish everyone. SO i am stopped wishing.
    When i came to the break times outside, I am in a group. So i was concentrate on the chat not who is coming back. Same thing in the elevators.

    But when i came to the usa, I am started greeting everyone. Started saying thanks to who is holding the doors, and saying Hi in elevators. When i came to office here we have 8 doors. So very rare to hold up the doors for others. But Will say thanks. In elevator max is 3 to 4 at a time, so easy to say Hi. I was not changed after coming to usa. My behaviour was not changed. In usa i never went to outside with bunch of people. Max is 2 or 3. I think this is making the difference. There is no culture need to be learned. Infrastructure is need to be improved. And moreover no one will check the law books to help some one. They will help that’s it. Even though police or 911 will comes or not.

    And someone taken the name of Indra Nooyi. While taking this example please consider Sonia Gandhi, Where Indians make the Indian leader.

  26. km

    I agree to what two things that author has written since i have lived for 30 years in India and 8 years in US. Bottom line is in USA people are good to strangers while in India we are good to our family,friends,colleagues or anyone that we know!!! and when we know someone we go to any length to help! in USA the politeness ends with the pleasantries…they don’t really help others because it is a society that is based on individualism.

    1. Anu

      Perfectly said.
      To the OP.
      Don’t confuse pleasantaries with caring attitude.
      Whenever I was late from college or workplace in Bangalore and Hyderabad, absolute strangers have walked me all the way till a well-lit bus stop because they either have sisters like me or that they are just good responsible people.
      None of them have ever smiled at me or held doors or talked about weather!
      Beware that sometimes that’s all you’ll get in USA. Strangers holding doors, exchanging plesantaries.

      Here are some cold hard facts about USA
      1 Your last REAL friend was the one you left in INdia.
      2. Your only meaningful relationship is the one you had with your parents and family members in India.
      3. If you have no family or friends in USA, 911 is your only support system.
      4. If someone does a kind thing to strangers, they make youtube videos as if its a great human experience. I have seen evening news stories about a guy buying one cup of coffee to one homeless guy and playing sentimental music. I have lost the number of times we have made snacks and chai for derailed train passengers near our small Indian town. We never got youtube videos or media stories about our good behaviour. When we were young, and travelled in trains, bachelors and single travellers were always given food.

      5. If you want to see mean and uncouth Americans, go to Minnesota as a brown immigrant. They’ll hate you just because they’ll think you are either hispanic or Arab! I get Arab war cries but “beautiful” white kids when I pass them. If your son is dying of an astma attack and you call 911, the neighbours will come and ask you about it not because they care, because they are worried that cops came to their great quiet suburbs!
      All of you self loathing Indians should be rounded off and sent to small town USA or this arctic tundra for work and be expected to raise a family. You need to get a dose of the ugly, paranoid and close-minded side of America to realize how free and welcoming our society was back home. One thing is for sure, I think I was more free in India than I will ever be in this beacon of the free world!

      Well I don’t blame you. Noone has won awards and accolades or even 15 minutes of fame by saying positive things about India anyway.

    1. Kishore

      I am from India and if this moron is from India too then I apologize on his behalf.

      Our country is neither good nor bad. Its not perfect and certainly not great. We may excel at certain things and be flawed in other fields, just like ANY OTHER nation in this world.

      But one thing at the core of our fore fathers teachings which Most have forgotten is humility. One must recognize the fault in oneself before pointing fingers at others, a person with a glass house shouldn’t throw stones at others house. In an increasingly Global society and economy, we ALL have much to learn no matter where we come from.


      I am disagree with you because America have more technologies and less homeless people with a good colleges.So don’t insult Americans

  27. akshay

    i totally agree with the post…today itself i just banged into someone who was in my batch in school..we had never spoken though..but since i saw her after 8 years…and thought the least we would do is give a courtesy smile! well..alas…all she did was glare at me for a few secs..i gues she was trying me…nd then she turned her face away! it really gave such negative vibes!! i felt totally weird..nd yes..this was in south delhi..which is supposedly very posh!!

  28. Amrita

    A good discussion going on here…. 🙂 I am going to share my ‘two cents’ too.

    I don’t think that greeting strangers is not a part of our ettiquette. Many a times I have heard that, not so long ago, saying “Ram-Ram” or “Jai Shri Krishn” or “Waleikum-A-Salam”(and other such phrases in different parts of India) to complete strangers was perfectly common and accepted as polite behavior. This tradition is lost now mostly due to mixing of people of various languages and religions together. The US is a country that speaks a single language for the most part, so, sharing such greetings as “hi, how are you?” is understood anywhere and everywhere. But in India, it is not written on ones face whether they are Gujraati or Hindi or Bengali or any of the multitude of other languages of this country. Can you imagine going around saying “Bhalo Bashi?” when the other person may as well feel that you are cursing them in your own language? I feel that the lack of mundane greetings in India is more a product of awkwardness about greeting people who may misunderstand you.

    Also, I take exception to the writers viewpoint of facial expressions. An expressionless face is not synonymous to a frowny or angry or rude face. If one doesn’t smile at you, it doesn’t mean that they are indifferent or arrogant. I lived in the US for 5 yrs and I came across an equal number of people who acknowledge others and not.

    Before one derives any conclusions, positive or negative, about any culture, be it Indian, American or Japanese, please try to think about the driving force behind a particular behavior. More often than not, there is a very valid reason behind every act or lack thereof.


  29. Rahul Doctor

    the writer sounds like an ******* from india…the very way you write shows how artificial is your emulation of american behavior, you are trying too hard to be an american dude…please join some etiquette classes and get more sense of cultural diversity in the world

    1. Princehuman

      Exactly what I wanted to say – and had said it in another article of the same stupid shallow article writer. Trying too hard to “fit in”.

      I actually expected a “proper” article on Etiquette – India vs USA, but was yet again disappointed by a ultra short and shallow “hey ppl 2 shallow experiences I had in India”. Its your personal problem. Its weird as you didn’t have anything weird to say about USA, inspite of living in India for more than 20 years – being born and brought up in India – which would mold you into “Indian”.
      Really disappointed by Kumar – a really shallow ignorant individual. Clearly, one of the worst undeserving Indians – these are people because of whom, we, the real talent doesn’t get out F1 and H1B 🙁 . Coz its these shallow wannabe’s that fill up the cap 🙁

  30. Musa

    there are 28 different states in india ,and each state has their own cultures,customs and taditions.So if a indian travels from one state to another for him its like travelling from one country to another country.SUCH IS THE DIVERSITY OF INDIA.out of 10 people there is always 1 black out of 120,00,00,000 people think the number of black sheeps.So every tourist or visitor have ther own experiences in india.You cannot judge the country on the basis of a particular incident.One of my friend from london just loves INDIA and tells me how it is diversified with blacks and whites,poverty and riches,hindu and muslim.ITS A UNIQUE COUNTRY AND NO OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD IS DIVERSIFIED AS INDIA IS.

    1. Sock Monkey

      At Musa: Just wanted to point out that what’s the use of diversity if India is culturally divided. Let’s be honest–there is division based on religion, caste (even though it’s illegal, you know it exists), language, skin color. And you know this has been a hindrance to India’s growth and potential. Stop sounding like a damn salesman. India is diverse to tourists and foreigners who think that all Indians look alike. What’s it to them?

      Now addressing the original poster, yes, India–especially in big cities like Mumbai–can seem a bit hostile, just like how New Yorkers have a reputation to be cold and distant. This is due to the rigidity that the Indian society has — all work and no play especially due to the over-population and the high amount of competition this is brought about in schools and offices, which then results in a very dog-eat-dog society. Hence, Indians tend to be a little tight-wounded. Indians do have a good sense of hospitality but that’s only once you get to know them. Just be cautious though, most Indians tend to be uncomfortably friendly (and clingy) once they feel they are friends with you, and will want to know everything about our personal life.

  31. sam

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  32. sam

    My first experiance with Indian people was while shopping in Hong Kong in 1959.
    I got the impression I was dealing with a pushey used car salesman in the US.
    At that time I was living in Asia and working with the Asian people in most of the countries in Asia.
    I felt excited to go work, shopping, etc,,, along with all the things in everday life for 14 years.
    Except for India, it was difficult to get anything done, delays, etc.
    The work being done was to benifit both, India and US.
    I was very suprised to see this attitude in India, East and West Pakistian.
    The complete opposite was true with all the other Asian countries, most especially, Japan.
    In 1978 a real estate transaction with Hong Kong Chinese in 1978, a win-win transaction.
    In 1985 another real estate transaction with Indians here in the US, I got screwed.
    In 1992 an Indian doctor double billed me for very important health care, luckily I had my reciept for paying cash.
    In business for 40 years, I have been in partnerships with Asians (except Indians), no problems.

    As “deep” commented here.
    DEEP, and some others simply does not want to grow, take the good and leave the bad.

    1. joe

      Well yes, what you commended is true. Corruption plays an important role in India, if you want your work to be done here you require money. but people out here in india are not like you said, if you want just act like a friend and you don’t want to be a friend. You will not be given any respect. You will find People acting strange to you. And here in india, people don’t say hi, hello,…. Etc, etc to any stranger’sunless they have something to say or Unless they know each other. In india we will do anything for friends and families. Your bad luck you have not been an true friend with any indian. So that’s why india looks strange to u all, once you come to a country you should adapt there culture, (I am not tell you leave your western style or too dress like Indian’s). I am saying that you can never except the country culture to be same as your culture. You will not know a country total culture in Internet, until you mingle with the people of the country.I tell you to have a friend who does not care about your money(same thing applies to you) and who just wants to be your friend, he will show you what is real enjoyment in india. If you just know the people it doesn’t mean you are friends. and one more thing if you are married this will not be applicable to you. And please don’t ask me how to become a friend. you will not a true friend in pubs, bars and restaurants etc. If you become a friend, definitely they will not call you by your name, they will keep a nickname for you. Maybe a good nick name or even based on your physical or mental skills, will keep a bad nick name. Don’t think they are racist.these things are very common here.While the days passes you its will like the it. Wanna enjoy in india this is the way. (This also not applicable for a forginer guy and a girl or forginer girl and a guy). I didn’t have a girlfriend. So I don’t know about them. And if you do any wrong things they’ll try to correct you and advice to you, if if you say something like who are you say, your friendship will be broken, for sometime and if you apologies you will become friends again but not like first. Be careful indians are very Emotional. If you hit him also its okay but don’t scold them in front of others.

  33. haripriya

    Well, I do agree that people in the US are well mannered. They say hello, hi, sorry etc, hold the doors for others etc etc. But what I did not like is that often they do not go the extra mile for others. For instance, I picked up lots of stuff to carry home at a cafe recently. They usually give plastic bags to put the stuff in. However, they did not give me a bag on that particular day and when I asked for one, the lady at the counter bluntly said “Sorry, we dot have any bags” and just walked away! Whereas in India, most people would go out of the way to find a bag for you when you have so much to carry, though they may not say hi, hello or anything of the sort. I have encountered several instances where people were blunt and refused to help, to the point where it felt like a slap on the face. They do not go out of their way to do things for others.

    1. Sunita

      I completely agree. I have been in US for almost an year and to my shock I too found that they do not go that extra mile, especially the sales people in the malls and do not help to a great extend for the comfort of the customers. Sometimes it forces me to feel “is it something to do with my color”? Whereas in India (Bangalore), I have found extreme customerism from the sales people be it Big Bazaar or any other mall like Forum where they would be constantly behind you to help you.

    2. Sock Monkey

      Good observation. I have noticed that as well. Indians may seem that they lack basic social etiquette but usually do go out of their way to help others. It’s attributed to the upbringing Indians have which cultivates a sense of hospitality–that they put others before themselves. India is a very community-based and community-oriented place.

      However in the US, everything is cut and dry, especially on a country founded on rights and that thrives off lawsuits. The society here is a bit more individual-oriented. If a business has to go out of their way for one person, they will have to do it for every other person. While I get the gist of what you meant to say from the experience you had, I want to say that I rarely see it because service in the US is usually not taken lightly, nor complaints from customers (maybe because they could be in for a lawsuit).

      1. sayanm

        “India is a very community-based and community-oriented place”.. “US, … The society here is a bit more individual-oriented” – great observation and very well said. I think the differences root mostly to the above points.

    3. Himanshu Khurana

      What does that suppose to mean ?
      It depends completely on the incident,you can’t judge Americans just because they said they are out of bags.
      In India let me remind you,you have to pay for a bag additionally which is kind of cheap.

  34. eduardo

    I am visitng India currently fro the US; I am a native European.

    I find Indians highly respectful; doors are held open all thetime. Maybe it is based on merit rather than on gender.

    Anyway, I am fully satisfied not to be talked to in an elevator – but then agqain, I am European.

    I do not mind the American way either. It is just one of many different ways. They can’t be all alike.

  35. administrator

    This is what I think – a person’s act in public can be divided into 3 broad categories – etiquette, common sense and adherence to rules.

    Etiquette is defined by the society and it is quite possible that something that is considered an etiquette at one place may not be applicable elsewhere. Japan has it’s own etiquette and even Americans will flounder following all of them. So it is difficult to expect same sort of mannerism from people around the globe.

    Then there is common sense, which is more universal. If there is a guy walking behind you on crutches then it’s common sense to hold the gate for him. Here is another example which I have faced a lot of times when I was in India. I used to go to shop a lot at Big Bazaar in Gurgaon. After completing my shopping, I used to enter the elevator w/ my cart and go to the parking lot. Common sense says tha if you are waiting at the parking lot to get into the elevator, then you would allow me to get out first so that there is more room inside and then enter the elevator. Well that didn’t happen ever, and everyone used to rush in, giving me no space to get out. This is common sense and is applicable to anyone anywhere.

    And finally we have following rules. I am not going into depths of criminal conduct, but limiting my discussion to rules around social conduct. There are seats prescribed on buses for women. However, I have seen instances (at least in DTC and blue line buses in Delhi), where men continue to occupy those seats even when there are ladies standing in the bus. You may ask where the conductor was – well he was making sure everyone was buying tickets. I have traveled equal (or probably more now) number of times in US public transit and let me tell you I haven’t seen a single instance where someone didn’t vacate the prescribed seat for disabled or seniors (there are not set seats for ladies but for disabled and seniors here).

    These are just some examples which I have experienced in both India and US. Although I don’t expect much on the front of etiquette, but it would be nice to see people using common sense and following rules. Is that too much for asking?

  36. abhishek

    we need not to follow someone just bec they do we should also do . its so immature to think like that and also there is no as such defition of etiqutte [ we have that enough from england [ i dont know who calls them great britain ] ].
    its such a hyperball created out of this
    etiqutte thing.

  37. Nirjhar Garg

    Kumar – I completely agree with your articel 100%. I have been in India for over 40 years all my life and very recently moved to the US. I noticed the same things that you have mentioned in your article above. How true they hold can only be expereinced after living in US. Sad & unfortunate, but India will never have these etiquettes ever!!!! It is not within the people from inside. This is something that I feel one learns from the very begining watching his peers and others do around them. Indians and asians for that matter are different. I even did not see any courtesy to other in Singapore which is considered to be far advanced and developed than any other asian country!!!!

  38. Alfred

    I welcome your suggestions on the importance of etiquette, but the way you have gone about trying to make your point is extremely distressing. Everyone here knows that India is a developing country, and that economy and literacy are on the upward rise. As times change—people also will. They are learning and they will exhibit a behavior in the future which they deem as rational. The Indian behavioral etiquettes which you have pointed out above might be appalling, but don’t be prejudiced in your outlook. There are plenty of Indians I have met, who through their words, manners, respect for an individual and simple social etiquettes are a true inspiration. None of their body language or demeanor is borrowed from the west. The people I am referring to neither speak English nor have had a chance to try western clothes. Learning from other cultures is perfectly alright, but the true identity of a country is rooted in its past and it is left to us: the present generation, to mould it and make it better; let us not ridicule or mock at it. I would like to see many more articles on etiquette—without any prejudice in it.

  39. Nishanth

    In India an act of kindness is considered as a weakness of a person. If you try to be polite or nice to some one, that person and others who sees this will try make use of your nice nature… Thats why we behave like that in India… Its time to change stuff like opening doors and all (which I have seen people practicing in IT companies in Bangalore )…

    1. Chetan

      I completely agree that in india an act of kindness is considered as an act of weakness. if you are nice and polite to people they will start to think as to how can they take advantage of your goodness.

      but then again, just because a person is well mannered and has etiquette, does not mean that is he is a genuinely good person.

  40. Prashant

    One reason why people take things in a different way in India is that we Dont trust anybody and DOUBT everything around us. I feel its because of the way we (most of us) were brought up or practical experiences.

    As a kid/young age, we were most of the times told: Don’t Trust anybody. Everyone out there has a bad intention or a bad plan. And also because of real life incidences too. Eg: Remember the annoucements on railway stations- dont take any food from strangers, etc. So we tend to become over cautious and start Doubting everyone around us. We are just not able to get over that thing.

    In USA too, Indians dont greet Indians in the Malls, Walmart, Office, anywhere. WHY?? We Doubt that the other person might be an AMWAY agent or something like that.

    We as human beings have to build an atmosphere of Trust around us and also inculcate the basic manners. We all are growing, making more money but we all need to become better Humans too.

    1. sam

      Well said my friend Prashant.
      “We as human beings have to build an atmosphere of Trust around us and also inculcate the basic manners. We all are growing, making more money but we all need to become better Humans too.”

      As a youngster, born 1939 in US.
      I remember, sageration, as a little white boy.
      I seen much worse than bad etiquettete.
      I am grateful that we have grown a lot, but we still need to grow more.
      Love to everyone is the answer, Sam.

  41. Srikar

    India with huge population, its not practical to wish to everyone on the road you see.
    Even you observe the same when you see the same on America in crowded places.
    But some things like Holding the door people of India should learn. They are many things that India should learn from other countries .. not just flatter about the ancient civilization greatness .. which does not exist today. Except strong family relations.


  42. Kishore

    Hello Kumar,

    I don’t know what you are expecting by writing such an article. If you expect a person to hold the door for you, that person will be holding the door for ever till that shop/hotel closes. There are other people paid to do the door opening job. if you expect a person to greet you with a “ are you?” you will have to play a recorded message or your mouth will be talking the same thing even in sleep (muscle memory). When a person is in India, be Indian. Its as simple as that. If a person starts smiling at strangers, you will not have time to work in office. Its all to do with population (density). If you still expect the same things to happen, go to forum maal in Bangalore one day and follow all the Etiquette that you expect from others for 12 hours (9AM-9PM) then come back and update your post

      1. Mary

        Its just a comparison of the etiquettes and positively looking at it Kumar has brought a very live picture .I strongly believe if you are adopting anything new for the betterment that will not make you westernized but civilized.If you think its only the job of gatekeeper to hold the gate ,thats also a part of etiquettes to have a gatekeeper to open the gates for you ,otherwise we all have hands and at least can open doors for ourselves.When he says you greet people with smile that doesnt mean you do it at the cost of your work.Why do you think people in other countries who follow all these they do not work??

    1. Shashi

      ‘If you expect a person to hold the door for you, that person will be holding the door for ever till that shop/hotel closes’
      Seriously? Did you try that? Imagine a nice firangi lady walking behind you through the door. Wouldn’t you hold the door for her?

      ‘When a person is in India, be Indian’
      By this comment, you effectively branded ‘Indian’ as the someone who slams doors on people walking by, one who greets strangers with anger on his face and what not.

      ‘If a person starts smiling at strangers, you will not have time to work in office’
      lol..From when the offices in India started allowing strangers to workplaces and btw no one is asking to smile at the cost of not doing the work. If you encounter a stranger in a lobby or at a stairwell or in the elevator and when you look at him face to face, a short smile doesn’t hurt anyone and ultimately creates a good atmosphere for the moment.

      Come on guys, these are the things that should be discussed over. Otherwise there would be no place left in India where you can find a little peace. Kumar has brought up a nice article for it. Instead of appreciating, you are just defending the ‘desi’ manners.

  43. deep

    Don’t just blindly follow westerners and don’t think whatever they are doing is correct and right, try to stick to our culture and promote it no matter where you live either in US or India! We have a GREAT culture and etiquette, for example keeping a distance between male & female is something we should proud and preserve & should export this etiquette to US instead of importing nudity in India 🙂

    1. Shashi

      Is it wrong to follow good etiquette from westerners? No, its not.
      We do have a great culture but we have wrong way of looking at it. How many people actually strive to preserve culture? Very few. But others talk abt it than actually doing anything.

      Why do you people think abt nudity when you think abt western culture. What a stereotypical thought is that? Do you think everyone in the west is ready take their clothes off. Try asking any of the woman here in US to do that. You will be behind bars within no time. Such a shame on your thought. Look there it is, your “definition” of etiquette.

      Etiquette between Man and Woman is in good shape in western countries than in any other place. People here respect woman. They are given equal opportunities like Men. And in some places, Women are ahead of Men. Take for instance Pepsico CEO Indira Nooyi. Do you think it would be possible for her to become CEO of a company as big as Pepsico if she was in India. NO.

      No one here is dumb enough to blindly follow westerners. For instance, we like their etiquette but not their food. Not their relationship with Parents. We take good qualities and leave the bad ones. And what Kumar mentioned in this article are good ones. So there is no need for you to have doubt that we blindly follow western culture.

    2. Chetan

      As much as i agree with you that we have a great culture, heritage and tradition, but my point is that IF we adhered to all our values and traditions as we were SUPPOSED to, then today India would have been the greatest nation in the world as it was in the ancient times when indians actually PRACTICED these values and traditions. And since we were such a great nation, we were also trusting, considered our guests as Gods, had strict battle codes and ethics, because of these reasons we were Pillaged and Plundered by the Moghals for 800 years and the Britishers by another 200. And the result of this backbreaking is in front of us today…

  44. Sheryl

    Well said Kumar.. Its very true.

    As now I am in US.. and getting such kind of habits in me but little scared to start responding in the same way(as I’ll be sed of it) after reaching India.. as Indians may take it otherwise. A smile to a boy to a girl or viceversa may be considred as blunders…
    But let us help Indians(atleast in Metros) to develop such etiquettes..:-)


  45. Shashi

    Hey Kumar,
    Although I never had any problem with the etiquette when I was in India but since I’m in US from past three years, now I feel the way we treat others in the public places is quite odd and sometimes wrong. I was thinking if it was time for a (atleast the ones in the metropolitans) change in the etiquette and have more gratitude and thankfulness. I myself will be visiting India very soon and in that interest would like to hear other experiences you had as well. Keep them coming

    – Shashi

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