indian food faux pas
Intrepid Express reader Sandra Bolton still lights up when she thinks of her amazing India experiences, even though her first trip started with her most memorable travel bloopers…
“My partner and I had never been to India before, but it was a country that had been top of our travel list for many years. We began our journey in Goa, as we had heard that it would be a gentle introduction to the most incredibly diverse country.
On our first night we ordered tandoori chicken for me and tuna steak for my partner. The restaurant had not been open long and the menu had been prepared with western tastes in mind. Now, as we were quite hungry we decided to have a little starter of vegetable biriani and two chappattis. The main meal was to come with chips and salad. We duly tucked in to the delicious birianis that were larger portions than we had anticipated, so imagine our horror when the main meals arrived and we discovered that not only was I expected to eat a whole chicken, but my partner’s tuna steak comprised of two large steaks, 10 inches wide by 3 inches thick.
We tried to keep a straight face but ended up convulsed in laughter, as we realised that somewhere along the line there had been a breakdown in communication. As we were in a Hindu community no one ate meat, therefore we couldn’t ask them to take some back for themselves, but as there were lots of dogs milling around the restaurant we were able to give them the feast of their lives, watched on by the stunned waiters.
Before we left I asked where I could wash my hands. The host pointed to a large container of water which had a kind of ladle attached (which, unfortunately I did not notice). I then made the biggest of faux pas. Instead of scooping out the water with the ladle, I duly rolled up my sleeves and plunged my hands into the barrel before noticing the look of utter shock/bewilderment on the waiters’ faces. What do I do? What do I say? Absolutely nothing at first, because I too went into a state of shock and couldn’t speak. I then made some strange noises of apology which came out like a drunken rant, but I was assured that it was ok before we skulked out into the night, red faced and feeling that all the Hindu gods would find a way of getting us back!
We have since been back to India many times, and yes, we have continued to have the odd bleep in protocol, but nothing compares to the first one.”
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* photo by Amy Lane – Intrepid Photography Competition