Posted by: janpierce | February 10, 2008

Being In The Know

I’d say that Roger and I are about as hip here as we are at home, but I could be wrong. I try diligently to watch for and follow cultural mores and of course Roger cheerfully ignores most of them. One rule we all obey is the leaving of “slippers” (shoes) at the door of any dwelling. It makes sense not to drag in the dirt and worse that we walk in daily. But it goes beyond the tracking-in issue because when we went to the weavers village we had to leave our shoes on the steps even though it was as dirty in the workrooms as it was outside. It probably is more a showing of respect to the owners.
Clothing rules are more complicated. People are generally too polite to comment, especially to anyone older than themselves. However as we get more comfortable with individuals they are beginning to clue me in, ” Your sleeves should be tighter, Aunty,” or a rearrangement of my get-up as they pass by me. The pants that are tight-fitting in the calf must be folded just so at the ankles. The scarves can be draped several ways, but must be worn. So I keep trying and Roger just boldly travels everywhere in shorts and a t-shirt. One young shopkeeper came all the way out of his stall the other day to tell Roger that he was “smartly dressed.” There is no justice in this world!
We attended a large city wedding yesterday. Roger was asked to bring a message even though we had never met the young couple. We were given flowers and later at the reception meal were seated at a table while most guests stood. I do not enjoy this special unwarranted honor, but it is a constant here and it is pointless to say, “But I don’t even know them!” I have learned to eat with my fingers – washing the hand with water outside, eating the chicken, mutton, rice, curds and then using the lemon piece to cut the grease before washing after the meal. All of this done in fine clothes with a dainty piece of fabric on our laps to protect the sari. I think it is okay to belch but I haven’t tested that out yet.
I suppose there are layers and layers of understandings to all of these cultural rules just as there are in the states, and I will continue to try to learn them while my spouse will win infinitely more social acceptance by just being himself and smiling and hugging everyone.



  1. You’ve always dressed so well in the US, Jan. I wonder what your friends would make of all the jeans worn here? Hi to Roger in his shorts. Take care! Love, Ang

  2. I love this! It’s exactly what makes you both so great! Miss you guys.

    🙂 Sara

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