Indian Habits Foreigners Take Back Home When They Leave

Many foreigners find India overwhelming when they first visit it. They find it too colourful, too crowded, too different, too diverse, too chaotic…. Too everything! But they find much that is fascinating, unusual and riveting about this country as well. There are some Indian habits that many foreign visitors pickup here and carry back with them as well:

Eating with their hands

Because of tactile pleasure! They probably started because there was no other way to eat a dosa or tandoori chicken or hilsa properly but soon started to enjoy the direct contact with the food, the way that eating with hands is a more natural, mindful and pleasurable way to eat.

Eating spicy food

Tears may run down their cheeks, they're probably gasping for breath but they’ll probably develop a keen appreciation for food that takes the roof off their mouths!

“Theek hai”

Or ‘Achchha’ or ‘appadiya’ or whichever phrase they came across which they found to be interesting and useful in a way that no English word or phrase can replicate fully and accurately. After a while “Wow” just seems inadequate to the India-returned firang!

Adopting the agarbatti

The simple, economical, humble and universally available agarbatti or dhoop becomes a great alternative to expensive incense or chemical room fresheners for many foreigners.

Drinking water differently

We Indians won’t touch our lips to a bottle out of consideration for others. Firangs find it difficult to begin with, but often realize the courtesy behind the gesture and the fact that its more hygienic.


Foreigners are often amazed at how much we Indians take in our stride; how tolerant and adjusting we are; often with strangers. They also learn the value of adjusting… India gives them a new appreciation of the very concept.


The Indian head nod may be the delight of a thousand standup comics, but visitors from aboard find it endearing, engaging and a great generic response in a range of different circumstances. Many adopt and export it!

The hygiene faucet

Who wants to go back to toilet paper when they’ve experienced the hygiene faucet! Firangs develop a keen appreciation for this device and tend to revise their concept of ‘clean’.


Many visitors squat for the first time when in India and continue to squat when back home!

Indian jugaad

Foreigners often develop a keen appreciation for the way Indians reuse, reinvent, repurpose and refashion items. They carry a bit of our jugaad back home with them… if not physically, then in their heads and their hearts!

Do you have something interesting you would like to share? Write to us at [email protected]