India is a uniquely diverse country with a multitude of terrains, languages, religions, cultures, cuisine, colours, ideas and thoughts. As it has a huge population, it is crowded, noisy, polluted, irritating, chaotic yet funny and most of the time hilarious, is developing and gets things done with jugaad. Ever ready with unasked for and unsolicited advice, we stare and ogle at anything that moves, especially the ones with fair skin, as any number of tourists will confirm.

When people land up in India, they are utterly confused at the chaos all around them. Before coming here, they knew that it different but they did not imagine the sheer unexpectedness of it. We Indians are not from some other planet, it’s just that we are different. The only advice that can be given to visitors to our magnificent land is that it’s not good or bad, it’s just different.

We Indians have certain quirks of behaviour which might not be polite or conforming to social etiquette. Some of these poky, intrusive idiosyncrasies have been developed on their own by individuals while others have been passed down generations so much so that they have become a part of the folklore. Some of these characteristics might be idiotic and irritating to those who are at their receiving ends but to a neutral observer, they are funny and hilarious.

As COVID induced lockdown forced us into the sanctuary of our homes, a large number of people lost their jobs, fell ill, many became depressed and circumspect but it also gave us ample time to observe things around us. We Indians are a cool and relaxed lot who unabashedly fart, burp and yawn in public as it is the most natural thing to do and if someone dares to point to us, we are left aghast. Such sheer insensitivity!!!

Using a handkerchief while coughing or sneezing was never our forte and so,masking ourselves or maintaining  social distancing was like asking us to do the impossible. We tried but lost. So much for social etiquette!!

As if that was not all, when we called someone on the phone, an omnipresent and monotonous caller tune instructed us to maintain “do gaz ki doori” as if we are kids and do not know what is good for us. What fanciful, ridiculous and despicable, all at the same time, idea!!

Unique as these idiosyncratic traits are to our desi personality, they define us. Some such cute, funny, irritating and yet challenging habits, quirks and idiosyncrasies for you to enjoy are listed as follows. Read on:

1. The Kings (Or Queens) of Bargaining

We Indians are masters of bargaining and do not let go of any opportunity to cad out a deal for ourselves. Even a reduction of one or two rupees in the original price, as a result of our bargaining, fills our heart with sheer joy and makes our day. Be it a neighbourhood kirana shop, bangle store, branded store, mall or any random shop, we bring out our secret weapon and finally, the baffled shopkeeper has to yield. If he does not, we do not accept defeat and raid the shop next day, early in the morning when the market has barely opened, as it is the time for the shop’s bohni(auspicious beginning). But let the fact be told, Indian women are the real bargainers and the men are no match to them.

2. Traffic Rules are for Amateurs

Representative Image (Photo credits: Cottonbro)

Traffic rules were made for the jelly-hearted and not for us Indians for whom the wide open road is our personal kingdom or race track where our emotions are given full throttle!! Feeling the cool wind ruffling our hair, a sheer thrill in our hearts and caring two hoots for these insidious traffic rules, we cross speed limits at will and overtake vehicles left, right and centre with aplomb.After all, God Almighty is our guardian!!

3. We Make Our Own ‘Indian Standard Time’

Making a late entry, be it at marriages or other functions, reaching railway stations, reporting at airports or a board meeting, is our style. We make our own “Indian Standard Time” and are really good at it, so much so that the whole world knows it that we follow our punctuality standards and reach the scene always late. The buses, trains, ships, boats, planes et el may come and go, we cut it too close for the sheer adrenaline rush!! Otherwise, why would Bollywood movies show the police arriving at the last minute, after the hero has been thoroughly bashed by the villain’s henchmen?

We Indians don’t understand that time is something to be gained, lost, spent, saved , given, on, filled, kept, used or planned. For us, it is flexible and has to be stretched and stretch it we will. .

4. The Gravity-Defying Pan Spitting

Pan (betel) spit

One remarkable habit that encapsulates all the diversities of India and captures its essence is spitting out pan in style. It is exclusive and original and hence, a classic. Pan is eaten all over the country and this legacy is upheld with great reverence by the countrymen, be they of any caste, colour or creed.Some anti-social people, believing pan spitting to be gross, want the practice to be banned in the name of cleanliness. These moron propagandists do not realize that spitting pan spittle is a proud art form that contributes to the wealth of our culture and society.Red stains on every corner of buildings, markets, office complexes, shopping malls and public spaces are a living testament to this art form.

5. Our Rights are Inalienable

For us, our rights are not to be infringed upon. We scream, jostle, snatch, roar and fight for our rights and will go to any extreme, short of sacrificing ourselves, to have them. That these rights infringe upon the rights of other people is another matter. We just need a reason to go to war be it peeing in front of someone’s house, walking our pets without a leash, parking our vehicles wherever we wish, for a seat in the bus or train or any college that we fancy. We will strike work, go on a hartal, sit on hunger strike, lay waste government property or any property, let the truth be told, to make sure that our work is done.

6. Complaining is My Birthright

We Indians complain about anything such as our neighbours, politicians, cricketers, religious figures, celebrities, government policies and the world, though not necessarily in that order. We are extremely free with our advice and give it out freely though it may be unsolicited most of the times. We believe we are the experts and are not shy in giving vent to what we feel. After all, it is in our genes and it is the others’ loss if they do not listen to us.

7. Lavish Weddings

Lavish Indian Weddings (Representative Image, Photo credits: Krishna Studio)

The fat Indian weddings are known the world over for the lavish scale on which they are mounted. People are dressed in designer clothes and shiny jewellery which to the others might seem flashy, exorbitant or ostentatious but it a simple case of jealousy. Earlier, a marriage was a single day affair but today, it has been stretched to days and even weeks, and that too at exotic locations. It is another matter that the life savings of poor parents are blown away on this once sacrosanct ceremony.

8. Put On Accent

Earlier too, the Indians were going abroad for education and jobs but after the 1990’s, the trickle turned into a torrent and it seems as if every second Indian is either working abroad or has studied there. Their flaunted fake accents prove this. They may not bring back gifts but when majority of Indians come back from abroad, the way they roll the “Rs” on their tongues, makes you feel as if they have lived there all their lives. It is another matter that they have been a part of a group tour and were abroad for a fortnight. We are masters at imitating foreign accents, especially the American one!!

9. Bollywood is Our Temporal Shrine

Bollywood rules us like nothing else!! Its films, dances, music and protagonists literally drive our lives and we groove to its sonorous beats. It has become such an integral apart of our daily lives and entwined in our activities that we talk and dress like our filmy idols and copy their mannerisms. We colour our hair in the shade of our heroes and heroines, dress like them and watch first day, first show of their movies so as not to be left behind our peers. After all, we have our bragging rights to look after!! We love being called their lookalikes though we may not openly admit to it.

10. My Celebrity is My God

We genuinely lack real life heroes so we make do with the few which we have. We may not achieve much in our drudgery-filled lives but we are mighty proud of whom we adore and idolize-our celebrities such as Rajinikanth (the original), Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar , Shahrukh Khan, Amir Khan, P.V. Sindhu and now, Neeraj Chopra!!! Though our idolation of these worthies may seem a bit over the top and eccentric to others, but what the heck, we are not bothered. We shall imitate them at all costs and no force on earth may dissuade us.

The roadside chai shops or addas turn into a beehive of opinion givers who disseminate perfect gyan on subjects and topics as varied as medicine, geology, foreign policy, defence matters, metaphysics, astronomy etc. But weird as it is, despite our profound knowledge pool and freely-given verbal solutions, we cannot or seem to not understand the problems that afflict us and this has made us Indians to find out innovative ways or jugaad in solving them. We do have a makeshift solution to every adversity that confronts us and that’s why we’re different and therein lies the charm and beauty of our nation.

>> Contd to “It Happens Only In India – Part 2” >>

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