While shop window designers are offending our readers by sexualizing Indian religious icons, Indian authorities are busy putting the “hi” back into “hijra” – their new hospitality guide makes it very clear to all those dirty over-sexed foreign visitors that they must behave themselves in a supremely chaste fashion when in-country.
- Men should never touch women in public, even to help a woman out of a car, unless the lady is very elderly or infirm
- In Indian culture… men socialise with men, and women with women
- Married couples in Asia do not hug, hold hands or kiss in public. Even embracing at airports and train stations is considered out of the question
- Generally it is improper for women to speak with strangers on the street and especially to strike up a casual conversation [Link]
Hotels and restaurants have been instructed to give this booklet out to new arrivals, as if to discourage tourists from staying a moment longer than originally planned. Hotel owners have been asked to post these rules prominently, in large font, on their walls even though it’s self-touching not other-touching that leads to poor vision. A shorter version is being prepared for the back of hotel receipts, perhaps to remind post-coital couples that cuddle time is now officially over. Luckily, these rules do not yet have the force of law, and are “merely” suggestions.
“It is improper for women to speak with strangers on the street,” the rules inform tourists While versions of these rules are being prepared in English, German, Hebrew and French, there is no indication if they will also be distributed in Hindi or other Indian languages.
Speaking personally, these rules don’t describe the behavior of my extended family within India, let alone how my married relatives behave. Maybe it’s just because I’m a Punjabi, but the idea of not being hugged at an airport or being told that I shouldn’t socialize with female members of my family in public seems quite absurd. This is far more sweeping that regulation of behavior between couples, it’s the Talibanization of all relations between the sexes, within the same family or not. I look forward to active civil-disobedience being staged starting soon Road trip to Rajasthan, anyone?
Here’s additional information on the origins of these guidelines:
A priest at Puskhar said that such behaviour was a form of “cultural pollution” and had led to local people petitioning Rajasthan state’s chief minister to put a ban on all Israelis entering the town.
The minister rejected the calls, but sanctioned the 20-page booklet of “do’s and don’ts”, which has been published in English, French and German, in order to “educate foreign tourists about local culture and sensibilities” [Link]
This is just like Middle-Eastern politics! You can either blame the Israelis or blame the Israeli blamers, but either way there’s a lot less fun in the world than there was before.