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Kiss Goodbye To Kissing

Kiss Goodbye To Kissing

September 25, 2011

Culture shock is going from kiss and touch happy Spain to India where men and women touching in public is taboo.

Every country in the world is different.  What is considered “normal” behaviour" in one country could very well be shocking or seemingly progressive or seemingly conservative and out-of-this-world behaviour to the people in another country.  Since moving to Bangalore from Barcelona I have had to change some of my habits because in India they are mostly considered inappropriate habits and behaviour. 

One “bad” habit I thought I would have to quit 100% was kissing, kissing, kissing!  You can’t imagine how happy I am that this isn’t the case at all!

You see, in Spain everyone kisses.  Men with men, men with women, women with women….even groups of kids.  Whenever you greet someone, even in many business situations, you give two kisses to cordially greet them.  In Spain, you start with your right cheeks, then switch up to the left.  When you meet up with your mates, your family, the owner of your favourite restaurant, etc, you kiss them to say hello.  In a business environment I would always kiss the team from my PR agency whenever we had a meeting, my photographer and models I’d use for shoots, and my freelance video guy, for example.  At work I would kiss my team mates if we hadn’t seen each other in days or after a holiday break… of course this is especially nice when I had this one particular smokin’ hot French boss, haha.  Everyone kissed.  Every day.  Throughout the day.  It was great.

But here in India things are very different
.  It is completely inappropriate to kiss in public.  All kissing and intimacy scenes are removed from imported TV shows and films.  In fact, an Indian colleague of mine told me that she and her husband have never touched or kissed in front of their son or their family.  It’s just really different here.

Two kisses is such a nicer way to greet people than the cold American handshake, that’s for sure!  And although the gesture might seem intimate to some cultures, the kisses are neither sexual in nature nor intimate in any way.  Even straight guys kiss, so that should put it into perspective.

I was really missing the two kisses quite a lot after I first moved here.  In fact, I would catch myself starting to lean in to kiss someone when we greeted, then stopped myself when I remembered where the hell I was now.  So I am over the moon that my social circle of friends in Bangalore are all Two Kissers...every one of them, thank goodness!  For just a few seconds it makes me feel like I am back in Europe.

But this isn't Europe and here in Bangalore I can’t imagine kissing anyone besides my friends under any circumstance.  I am pretty sure that my work mates would think I had lost my mind if I walked into work on Monday and started two-kissing them as I walked through the door.  And if I kissed my marketing manager, who is a man….my oh my I bet the rumours would start flying.  It’s just not done here.

When I first arrived I made an effort to not even extend my hand when the impulse hit me to shake hands with a male colleague or business contact.  This was an etiquette rule I had read online somewhere
.  But I realized quite quickly that it’s ridiculous to worry about something like that in Bangalore.  I think it’s definitely still good advice for me to follow when I’m in rural locations but as a rule here in Bangalore everyone in the business world is very cosmopolitan so it is unnecessary for women to act in this way.  We can reach out to shake hands just like a man in Bangalore, which rocks.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy a good kiss, although it can most definitely lead to trouble or awkwardness here in India.  Recently I went up to a DJ friend of mine who’s a two-kisser and gave him two kisses.  Problem was that I walked up to where he was at the console to say hi and I guess that we were in front of loads of people.  For me this was 100% normal and to be honest I didn’t think twice about it.  Well later on in the evening I heard two different people refer to me as his girlfriend, which was hysterical!  Hmmm, funny how something so innocent to me could cause such a scandal here.

I don’t imagine that I’ll be revolutionizing the two-kisses scene here in Bangalore anytime but I definitely like the thought of it.  Think of how much nicer things might be if the stigma on touching was removed from society.

Photo credit
: Daniel Stark 


  • Rajendra Raikwar
    Rajendra Raikwar
    17.11.11 04:52 PM
    great efforts
  • Abu
    04.10.11 12:19 PM
    Hi Angela...

    As promised... a piece of my mind :)

    Warm regards,
  • Rahul Bhandare
    Rahul Bhandare
    01.10.11 08:57 PM
    Very nice article. Though confusing, isn't it? On one side we are shy about these things and on the other hand we are the 2nd most populated country...
  • Dr.chitra
    28.09.11 11:53 AM
    Dear angela..
    I think i over reacted orelse it was my mis conception.
    I take back my words, if possible plz remove my previous comment..i really take back my words.
    i shud have taken the post rather sportively and enjoyed it.
    gud day lady.
  • Chitrang Shukla
    Chitrang Shukla
    28.09.11 06:54 AM
    Hello Angela,

    Dat was awesome... Nd even all of d comments beneath r awesome... Nd just like someone else said... Don be afraid of d culture police... But i would add to that.. "Be aware that you don't offend people by saying something which can have double meaning". I am an Indian , have been staying in Canada since two years. Believe me here, upnorth (US,CA) its a melting pot of people coming from different countries, leading different backgrounds, following different faith and religions... Now in such a scene, ders not a single chance when you would'nt be aware of some cultural difference might talking and the 2nd person would take you in a wrong way !!!! But hey, dis is 21st century... dey try to avoid any conflicts nd be calm nd den try to understand what's the difference... Same things have happened a lot of time wid me.... Am not tryin to point out anything... But i would say it's really fun reading Angela's stuff and people commenting beneath it... I liked it... Hope we all end up in heaven nd discuss all such matters again der.. It would be fun !!!! Am runnin widout a direction in my comment cuz i don;t see der's a potential solution to such a problem !!!! A very wise person once said " No one gets more den whats written in your destiny and no one gets abything before time" |(samay se pehle aur naseeb se zyada kisi ko kuch nahi milta)... Same is d case wid India nd world.... If ppl would want to organise something first then it should be the debt nd crisis that US is facing... But dey can't. Cuz of one pure reason : D wise man's advice ... Same is with the world and same is the case with India !!!!
  • Nitin
    28.09.11 12:55 AM
    I think something as fluid as culture cant be caged. Anybody can culturally influence anybody, can adapt, love, accept or reject anything about any culture, anytime, anywhere. Indian culture has been affected by and has affected anybody and everybody who cared to learn about it. Lets not mistake societal ego with ethos and cultural idiosyncrasies with rules & regulations which segregate people.
  • tys
    27.09.11 09:16 PM
    now...lets see what is offensive about you...hmmm, ur article?...unlikely...its a fair piece and not in any way insulting or worse , was an honest insight...

    then what is it?

    Ah! you are white! You are a firangi!

    How dare you!

    Just have your fill of our spiritualism and talk about how full of mystery and magic the land of India is and how you were transformed by its people.

    and for good measure write a book abt it, or better start an NGO and do some good and we will even make you a saint.

    thats ur karma as a foreigner in my country. Kisses ? Chi!

    That kind of talk sullies our bharatiya naris..and some of the naras too..we prefer our kisses done with rubbing 2 flowers together. Thank you.
  • Sid
    27.09.11 07:50 PM
    Hey Angela, just wanted to say that don't be discouraged by the culture police. I enjoy reading your articles.
  • A Singh
    A Singh
    27.09.11 05:45 PM
    @ Dr Chitra - I am also completely stunned...but at your views. From your title I take it you are either a medical doctor or hold a doctorate, either way a supposedly educated person. I am even more staggered that such comments have come from a woman!

    Where does the author say that she is living in hell? And where does she suggest she wants to revolutionise Bangalore? This is obviously a personal account of a foreigner coming to terms with the cultural differences between her new home and the previous environment she had become accustomed to (btw kissing everyone is a more European thing than American so she has already moulded herself to a different culture). And what's wrong with that?

    And another thing

    "When you are in a place you have to accept the place as it is."

    Are you serious?? I think you are a hypocrite as you probably do not live a life akin to your Indian ancestors and enjoy many experiences in India that have come to be because of foreign influence.

    Do you think Indians have always accepted the country as it is? If that was the case women would still be burning themselves on their husband's funeral pyre and remain as domestic slaves (certainly no prospect of becoming a Doctor!) with lesser rights than a man.

    For the record, if you are not already aware, Indians living abroad not only have an impact on the local culture (food, music, fashion, etc) they also maintain many of their cultural beliefs and practices, going to temple, diwali, etc. Are the millions of Indians living in the middle east practising traditional Arab lifestyles?
  • Angela Carson
    Angela Carson
    27.09.11 05:37 PM
    Hi @Dr.chitra - I have just re-read every word of my article and I am trying really hard to sort out what YOU have read that gave you such an opinion of my thoughts on the differences in touching/kissing culture between the US, Europe and India? I say that 2 kisses is better than an American handshake but there's no negative comparison to India, I purposely ensuured there were none because that is not my style.

    I love it here and think that the non-stop cultural differences are fun and interesting as hell. But I certainly don't feel like I'm in hell. Anyway, if you feel like showing me what sparked your comment I would sure appreicate it....
  • Angela Carson
    Angela Carson
    27.09.11 04:39 PM
    Hello @Tys, @shirish, @Abu and @Vikram, thanks so much for taking the time to comment and for your kind words (and words of encouragement). I realize that writing a blog, or writing for the newspaper and a men's magazine as I'm starting to do now, will open my words up to opinion and not everyone will find me funny or interesting or acceptable but I'm happy to see that I have more positive comments than negative so I'll keep chugging on full steam ahead :-) Have a wonderful week, angela
  • Vikram Karve
    Vikram Karve
    27.09.11 01:23 PM
    An interesting post. Yes, cultures are vastly different in various parts of the world but with increasing globalization it looks like barriers are slowly breaking down.
  • Abu
    27.09.11 09:20 AM
    Poor Angela,

    Firstly, she's come here to our country - away from home - missing her 'normal ways' - trying to adapt to our culture - learning and studying it - appreciating it at times and finding it difficult at other times.

    Writes a fine blog post about the 'cultural differences' only to find desi-junta battering her!!! Branding her as "an agent on a secret mission" (I find this too.... sorry lost words)

    Feel sorry - and I'll be shortly writing a piece of my mind (in a good way) for you as soon as a find some time. And I'll share it.

    I know that you are mature enough to understand that there are different types of people all around world and you'll be generous enough to forgive one 'fool'

    Keep writing your experiences in India. An outsider view sometimes helps us improve ourselves...

    Love & regards with 2kisses (I couldn't do it in person for reasons you'll understand ;) but surely on a comment it won't matter)
  • shirish patwa
    shirish patwa
    26.09.11 11:11 AM
    Well I do not think anything wrong in the blog.On the contrary I liked the piece. I do not attribute any malacious intention in putting on a blog your feelings about the social behavior you are not accoustomed with.I shall like to read more of your thoughts, Dear Angela.
  • tys
    26.09.11 04:01 AM
    why are we like potatoes? is Everything gud about is buried? In the past?

    I kiss and hug. Iam an indian by birth. I also touch feet of elders. These are actions that are conditioned. The author meant no harm when she pointed out an misunderstanding of her comfort zone. Why not respect that? Is it necessary tht since we are the land of so many biggisms , which in my opinion is not something u can claim as ur own, we have to b intolerant to another opinion?

    For a land who gave the world kamasutra, display of love or affection shud naturaly b accepted. Otherwise we shud at least hve the sense to question ourselves what happened?
  • Angela Carson
    Angela Carson
    26.09.11 03:08 AM
    Hi all... first, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I know that I have very strong opinions about the inequality between men and women and also about the insane nightlife issues going on in Bangalore... but I am so surprised that I have come off as trying to change society. What was it that I said? Honestly, I just have so much fun seeing the differences between my life as I've known it until now and my life as I live it and see it now. I use humour to throw light on topics because that's how I speak and how I am and I suppose that I do always sort of sum up with a "guess I won't be changing things soon but wouldn't it ..." sort of sentence to make people imagine melding the best of both worlds.

    India isn't Barcelona or Los Angeles -- and for that I love it. But sometimes, just sometimes, I wish it was, which is normal for anyone living away from last week when I was in Barcelona and could wear a bikini to the pool and beach. I didn't incite any riots or cause shame to anyone in my bikini but it did make me an equal to any man here in India who can wear what he wishes to the pool and beach so that I loved :-) --angela
  • A Singh
    A Singh
    26.09.11 01:57 AM
    @ Poor In Java - here, here!

    I was just about to wade in but I think you covered most of the points I wanted to make:)
  • Poor In Java
    Poor In Java
    26.09.11 01:54 AM
    OMG...someone got offended LOL...I don't see anything incorrect or wrong here which should hurt anyone. After all blogging is all about speaking your thoughts out.

    @BeingHindu - If your emotions get so badly hurt and you are so much patriotic to your country, why did you move to Dubai? Stay in India and live like rest of them. Perhaps stop wearing jeans, shirts as a matter of fact your bare essentials also and get back to old Khadi ways. Why to leave your "Bharat Mata" and "Matrabhoomi" and live a life in some other country. I am an Indian too and I am proud for the culture, tradition, moral ethics and many more things of Indian society yet I feel bad for certain things. The truth is we all should think in the right direction and work for the betterment of the society and not sit in some alien land and crib about rest of the world talking about us. No doubt Britishers and other foreign nations took away our wealth but they were the ones who brought railways in India, English language which is a global communication channel (language which you used to type your comment), globalization and modernization. Yes, these invaders looted us but they didn't destroy the country and even if they did, it's been 60+ years now, India could have or should I say, should have done better than what it is today. Why is corruption, loot, killing, cheating, lying for every small thing, back stabbing, self interest, orthodox thinking and hypocrisy so deeply embedded in Indian society? Why is that still we have to stand in long queues everywhere and then every individual wants his/her priority, why can't we be patient, why can't we learn basic living civic sense, why is it that advanced countries still call us 3rd world or developing countries. Before letting others know that we have a history of rich heritage, culture and knowledge, we must prove it that what our ancestors had and what they left for us is still worth every penny and that people are utilizing it in the right direction for the betterment of the mass.

    Make this world a better place for all past present and future generations to live, learn and experience and stop being such a restricted, orthodox, closed and Hypocrite person. No one is making you do anything, you are as free soul as any other human on this planet.
  • beinghindu
    25.09.11 06:43 PM
    Hi, Angela how are you ?
    Let me introduce myself I am an Indian working in Dubai 4years . I just have different view on the matters you written here. I have been following your article few months .I suspect you as one of those who work for specific NGO directly or indirectly, in a particular country for some secret mission, to change or create or build up place or people that can respond positively towards the global market so that western policy makers can easily sell /influence/gain their business motive.
    May be its not true but still I have to think that way also due to what happening nowadays in the global politics particular in china , India, other Asian country’s .
    As I understand in your every article you are trying to change society on a particular subject.
    People are not kissing each other in public that is not big thing in India cuz as every community we have full right to stick on our own culture, tradition that we follow . We as a country oldest civilization, which build upon strict values we don’t have to behave as different country or people which build up their nation in different extreme.
    As I am living in UAE here we can see a very conservative tradition, but none dare t comment on that .For those who it matters they don’t have to inject social reform in this market cuz its already fully run and protect by western interest.
    So my request “you “ don’t try to change this country, its social value, its culture, its tradition , its believe… this what we following 10thousand years .
    And please don’t judge us as backward, unsocial, underdeveloped, old–fashioned etc. its all cuz of our political reason not lack of intellectual capacity …
    Its very pain full that when we look back our history the Dutch, Portuguese, British, Arabs, Mughal every one those who come to India for various reason ,they all steel our wealth from us and build their nation very well and keep us ruined for thousands of years .
    Christopher Columbus to Vasco da Gama to East India company everyone had the same motive .
    Those who give lecture to us without knowing this was once richest country in olden days which taught to the world civilization ,Religion, Music ,Arts, Ancient science ,the art of love making (Kama sutra),navigation, Astronomy , philosophy, Ayurveda, yoga, Pythagorean theorem ,Algebra, Trigonometry, Calculus, Diamond, Dam irrigation(saurashtra),chess, university ,(Nalanda), surgery (sushruta) and concept of global village etc… we don’t need anyone point us what good for us If we know how to do all those above then we know what is right to do in our community .
    My humble request to you all , let us be like what we are ,let us our generation what we had. We don’t want to be like American, Roman ,Spanish . Everyone right at their own space only, once we try to adopt anything the goodness go away …we want to make our own identity once we achieve that we will open our political or business market wide open to all of you…..

    Regards, an Indian by attitude
  • Vyankatesh
    25.09.11 06:00 PM
    Interesting read.

    Quite a transition for you, especially to restrain yourself :)
  • Jaai Vipra
    Jaai Vipra
    25.09.11 02:34 PM
    Kissing scenes aren't really deleted.
  • Poor In Java
    Poor In Java
    25.09.11 07:03 AM
    Oh God, I must move to Spain now :)
    Nice post Angela. For such a long time I've been thinking of posting something similar not on kissing but in general cultural differences, etc. etc. but don't know why never ended up with an article.
    This one refreshed my memories.

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