CULTURAL OBSERVATIONS, PART 2
This is something that I try to do everywhere I go. I try to make note of all surprising cultural observations that I come across in my travels. As a disclaimer, these may not be %100 percent true, as many are broad generalizations, and some of these were told to me by various people I met along the way, so take them with a grain of salt.
- Because of a lack of funeral homes in some places, when someone dies, their casket is brought to the home for people to pay their respects.
- The Communist Party is very active in Kerala, and there are lots of red flags and graffiti with CPI (Communist Party of India) written everywhere.
- Some churches have a big gold column in front with an oil candle on top, an element adopted from Hindu temples.
- It appears to be ok for the ground floor of a building to be in use while the concrete for floors above is still being poured.
- Houses in Kerala typically have tiled roofs, are made of solid concrete, and have balconies lined with benches.
- There are hardly any American cars, but many from Tata, Mahindra, Suzuki, Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Skoda, Renault, etc.
- When a strike is called in India, everything stops, and if you drive down the street, people will throw stones at your car. However, if you are having a wedding, you have to put wedding pictures on the front and back of your car so people don’t attack you.
- In Christian Indian weddings, the bride starts the ceremony wearing a white wedding dress. The priest then blesses a sari, a traditional garment, which the bride then puts on.
- In Kerala, alcohol is not sold on the first day of every month because that is the day people get their paychecks, and the government does not want people to rush to spend their pay on booze.
- Sitting in the sun is not as popular as it is elsewhere, so beaches are used primarily for walking around.
- Food is traditionally eaten with one’s hand, even wet dishes with a lot of gravy and rice.
- Many poor people drink Toddy, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented coconut water.
- Indian food is traditionally vegetarian, and if you want to go out and eat meat, one should ask for a non-veg restaurant.
- Private busses are often ornately decorated with neon lights and paintings.
- People decorate their taxis, auto-rickshaws, and trucks, often with religious imagery.
- When a woman sits on the back of a scooter or a motorcycle, she sits with both legs hanging off the side of the vehicle. (Our driver joked that if she sits with a leg on each side, then she is a prostitute)
- When a car pulls into an expensive hotel, a security guard checks the trunk and uses a mirror at the end of a stick to check under the car for bombs.
- Hindus keep a bottle of water from the Ganges in their houses.