If you’ve never gotten the middle finger salute from another driver you’re just not trying. The point is we’ve all been insulted at one time or another. In some cases the insult was intentional and in some cases it wasn’t. I was watching a movie where one of the characters remarked to another, “When is your baby due?” The woman was, or course, not pregnant and was highly insulted.
As American’s, we believe that the entire world revolves around us. Unfortunately for many American’s who leave our shores for far away places with strange sounding names they find that things we do naturally in America are very insulting, and in some cases very illegal, in other countries. Here are some interesting examples.
Be Careful Doing The Wave
We all wave to each other. That “Hi, How are ya?” thing we do. Waving is very offensive to people in Greece. Perhaps it stems from saying, “Bye-Bye” to all their benefits.
Don’t even think of shaking a woman’s hand if you happen to find yourself in the Middle East. Giving the Shah a “thumbs up” is also not a great idea.
If you happen to come across a cute kid in Cambodia, do your best to resist patting him on the head. In Thailand, the head is considered very sacred.
American’s invented the two finger “peace sign” that everyone flashed ad nauseam during the 60’s but don’t try it in the UK. You might get your “bum” kicked.
Keeping your hands in your pockets during the entire trip might not be a bad idea. Making gestures that are second nature might get you off to a bad start.
You Are What You Eat
Most people know that “bacon” or pork of any kind is not a real taste treat in the Middle East. No wonder they are so upset with us. I’d be off the charts angry if I couldn’t have bacon. In India cows are the sacred animal of choice so don’t look for the nearest McDonald’s Big Mac or Double Quarter Pounder.
If you are traveling to Asian countries you’ll find some delicious foods over there. However, you are going to have to ignore your Mom’s direction. Cleaning your plate is an insult to Asians who think that you did not get enough food. To get a big smile from the waiter and chef, leave a little behind to let them know you are completely satisfied.
In Saudi Arabia you can be arrested and jailed for eating in public — during Ramadan. Local residents go without food during this holiday and would be insulted by your gastrointestinal actions. This offense is serious enough to get you some jail time.
India is not exactly the most sanitary of countries and they are the first to admit it. It’s because of this condition that the Indian people do not eat with their left hand that to them is an unhealthy practice.
A Drug By Any Other Name
This part is not really an insult just good advice. In Southeast Asia they are way over the top about drugs. Not just those that are illegal in America, and most other countries, but even over the counter drugs from Walmart or your favorite supermarket. Common everyday drugs we all use every day can get you a life sentence in some Asian countries.
Unless you need your prescription drugs to keep you alive, leave them home. You can make it a week without your Valium or Prozac.
Some Final Thoughts
If you’re traveling, do your homework. If you are going to someone’s home, I’m assuming you’d like to make a good impression on your host. Going to another country should carry the same respect. The Internet is full of information about what to do and not do when you reach your destination.
There is no reason, in today’s world of 24/7 information, where you should not be aware of how to behave in another culture. So happy trails, watch out who you wave to, slow down on the bacon and beef, and don’t clean your plate, you should be fine unless you try to shake someone’s hand in Japan before they offer it first.