Hands vs cutlery…

Something as simple as the way we eat our dinner couldn’t possibly differ that much across the world…could it?

But, being told to ditch the knife and fork and opt for the “handy” way of munching on your dinner in a place you are already unfamiliar with could certainly ignite some degree of culture shock in travellers. Culture shock can leave us feeling lost and deprived, confused and anxious.

It should be noted though that for many, learning to adapt the way one eats may not be seen as too drastic a change and thus the process of adjustment, as dictated by the “u-curve”, will be smoother and faster for some travellers over others.

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Similarly, depending on the purpose of the traveller (that is tourist, sojourner, immigrant or refugee), and the amount of time one intends to spend in the country, the pressure to overcome this culture shock and assimilate more fully into the new culture, differs.

Here are some basic rules given to me by an Indian co-worker to help you travel smarter and hopefully overcome the worst of that god damn, culture shock –

  • With your RIGHT hand, scoop the food onto the flatbread (i.e. roti or naan)
  • Don’t let food touch your palm or your fingers touch the inside of your mouth
  • Use your thumb to “catapult” the food into your mouth


After all, isn’t travelling smarter about engaging in self-reflection and being respectful of the culture we are immersing ourselves in?


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