Sunday, August 22, 2010

Commonwealth Games 2010 - Tips for tourists visiting India

Commonwealth Games organisers have compiled an extensive list of hints and tips for visitors to the October event, the guide providing a valuable insight into social mores as well as helping to avoid embarrassing situations.

Visitors to the Delhi multi-sports gathering now understand that greeting an Indian woman with a peck on the cheek is frowned upon, public displays of affection are strictly off limits and they should not panic if strangers stare at them.

Also, it is always safer to use bottled water while brushing teeth, discussing politics is fine but not religion, while knees and shoulders should be covered at holy places.

The guide puts a lot of stress on sartorial modesty and respecting local customs, especially important when visiting temples and religious sites, where trousers or full-length skirts should be worn and shoulders should be covered.

Published on the official website ( for the Games, organisers also explain that in Sikh temples your head must be covered and that the better-dressed tourists were likely to be the ones attracting the least attention.

However, the guide does add that "even in the most cosmopolitan Indian cities, the chances are that your different appearance might mean that you will be stared at. Please do not be offended, no harm is meant, it is just curiosity."

The traditional Indian Namaste, with folded palms, is advocated as a good way to win friends in Delhi while shaking hands with a woman, or greeting her with a kiss, might raise a few eyebrows.

"If she extends her hand, you must reciprocate but don't be the first to extend your hand," is the advice for male tourists, who are also informed that a peck on the cheek is appropriate only when the woman in question is a model or beauty queen.

The guide adds that Indians are prone to shake their heads during conversations and visitors should suppress their amusement if they found it funny.

For those worried about hygiene, organisers say it is better to avoid public toilet facilities, which can be of dubious cleanliness, and carry tissues or wet wipes.

Last month, the organising committee announced beef would not be served during the Oct. 3-14 Games, respecting local dietary traditions.

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