20 things I shouldn’t be doing when visiting Bhubaneswar

This post is dedicated to outsiders or visitors or foreigners who would want to know the nuances of cultures, those explicit & implicit do’s & don’ts. Culture-shocks & faux-pas.

A trip to Bhubaneswar can be life changing, it will expose you to socio-economic issues like poverty, beggars & cows on roads on one hand but on the other side you will also experience vibrancy of colors, diversity of culture, exotic food, rich history, beautiful landscapes, temples, warm people and much more.

The diversity in Indian culture, language, food, climate, and religion is truly fascinating and at times can be overwhelming for first time visitors. Not surprising for a country so different and so exotic there are some huge differences in culture here from what you might expect say in USA or Australia.

  1. Don’t get offended by intrusive questions. People will ask you personal questions. Strangers will ask personal questions. But their intention in all probability would be nothing but fascination & awe. Expect questions like, “How much do you earn?” “Is your travel partner your wife/husband?” “What is your age?”
  2. Don’t push things from your feet, don’t point to anyone or anything with your feet, don’t touch books with your feet and most importantly, don’t sit with your legs up on the table. It is considered extremely rude and impolite to do so, even though you intended to stretch your legs!
  3. You shouldn’t wear your shoes inside the house. Take them off before going in.
  4. Don’t make any jokes about elders esp parents.
  5. Take some gifts (sweets etc) when you visit anyone’s place.
  6. If you take someone out (be it business meeting or dating :)), don’t expect him/her to contribute. You pay including dropping him/her.
  7. If you are a non-Hindu, be careful of visiting any temples or even photographing it.
  8. If you are a woman & don’t like too many prying eyes, dress conservatively. Esp if you are out in the public. Avoid skimpy clothing.
  9. If you are a woman & you smoke, you will attract lot of creepy stares.
  10. You should carry drinking water with you all the time. Even when you run out of water, you can request anyone at anyplace, you will get water FREE of cost!
  11. Avoid political or religious discussions with random people. We may be deeply divided & divisive but often don’t tolerate any outsider doing the same!
  12. Do some research on ‘Bollywood’ ‘Cricket’ to strike conversation with anyone.
  13. Don’t show your affection publicly. PDAs are strict no. Yes, you can pee in public but not kiss in public!
  14. Don’t assume men who hold hands are gay!
  15. Don’t trust people easily. Bhubaneswar too has its share of scammers. Talk to multiple people and research before deciding any thing.
  16. Don’t give in to the plight of beggars. Often times they are scammers.
  17. Never reject food at a host’s place. Also be prepared for extra spice & chilli.
  18. You are not expected eat using spoons and you can very well use hands!
  19. It is generally not acceptable for men to shake hands with a woman until and unless she offers the same. If she extends her hand, you should reciprocate otherwise it is better to join your palms and wish her in traditional Indian style.
  20. You can meet people without appointment & even visit their homes without appointment. And they will still treat you good.

But hey, there are tons of things we can do here in Bhubaneswar without batting an eyelid! And while some of them are pure cheeky, some are really surprising and interesting! Try at your own risk. Don’t get jealous :)

  1. Cross roads without caring a hoot about Traffic rules.
  2. Live with parents.
  3. Know multiple languages.
  4. Eat spicy food.
  5. Bargain.
  6. Celebrate festivals round the year.
  7. Arranged marriages
  8. Measure distance in time

Welcome to Bhubaneswar.