Experiencing a culture shock is an inevitable part of moving to India, especially if you are traveling to the country for the first time. Bangalore, the “Silicon Valley of India” is a dynamic city with deep religious roots. In spite of being young, tech-driven, and urban the culture in Bangalore is rather different from that in the average Western country, and therefore most expats from the US and the UK need some time to adjust.
Eventually, you may love living in Bangalore, but initially the sounds, sights, smells and colors or this city may assault your senses. You need to be willing to adjust to a new way of life while the culture shock wears off. Of course, the best way of dealing with a culture shock is to learn as much as you can about Bangalore and its people. Here is some advice for new expats to deal with culture shock in Bangalore.Religion
Like most other Indians, the people in Bangalore are a religious lot. A majority of the population in this city follows Hinduism, the influences of which can be seen throughout the city in the form of temples and shrines. Apart from that, Islam and Christianity are also followed to some extent. Most people begin their day by praying and various places of worship are packed at different days of the week.
Fortunately expats are free to practice their own religious beliefs and do not have to adhere to any religious norms. However, while visiting a holy site, it is best to avoid revealing clothing. Showing even the slightest disrespect (or what could be interpreted as such) towards God or religion is a strict no-no in Bangalore.
Personal space & privacy
India has the second-largest population across the globe, and therefore people don’t often get as much personal space as they would like to. As a result, people often encroach on one another’s personal space. Be it in an elevator or on public transportation, you will often find people calmly pressed against each other. If someone bumps past you while walking on the street, they won’t even offer an apology, because it is a very common occurrence for them.
Unlike the West, it is also absolutely okay for Indians to ask personal questions, even when they meet strangers. So don’t be surprised if your neighbor or coworker asks you about your family, work, personal life, and so on, possibly even the very first time you meet.
Traditional Indian clothes for men and women are easily available all over the city. Because of how comfortable and colorful they are, expats are often seen in ethnic Indian clothes. However, western wear is also common in all Bangalore households. Men usually wear jeans, trousers, shorts, cargo pants, t-shirts and shirts on a daily basis. In addition to sarees and salwar kameezes, women can be seen in dresses, tops, skirts, trousers, suits, slacks and jeans.
There is no dress code in Bangalore, but it is best to stay away from clothes that are revealing. Showing a significant amount of skin even in the summer could create a problem, as people may take offense. Most women wear clothes that are no shorter than the knees. Plunging necklines and backless outfits are best avoided completely, except for very specific situations such as private parties or a night at an exclusive pub.
Around 29% of the Indian population lives below the poverty line. As a result, it is quite common to see people of all ages begging in the street.
In Bangalore, beggars may walk up to you and pat your shoulder asking for alms. Many of them may follow you around till you give them a satisfactory amount. However, as soon as you hand something to one beggar, a few more are likely to surround you. Beggars know that foreigners have the tendency to be generous when it comes to alms-giving, and may make things a bit difficult for you.
Though this may sound cruel, do bear in mind that giving alms to beggars is counterproductive. Even the small children you see begging are sometimes a part of a gang, and every penny you hand over goes to the ring-leader. The best way to help beggars is by volunteering with a notable charity that fights poverty.
Though moving to Bangalore takes some getting used to, the city has a lot to offer in terms of culture. With a positive attitude and a few adjustments the entire experience could be an enriching one for you and your family.