When I was seven years-old, I took a trip a few hours outside Mumbai, India to my grandfather’s village. We sat down for another meal at another family-friend’s home. I wasn’t hungry, but I remember noticing frowns on the faces of the elderly women when I refused food. I clearly had no choice in the matter.
I’m left-handed, so I tore the naan-like bread and gathered the curried-vegetables with… you guessed it… my left hand.
The lady seated next to me, tapped my left hand with enough gusto that I dropped the piece of bread. My eyes widened. She then “guided” me through the motions of eating with my right hand. She proceeded to do this two more times. I looked at the woman, bewildered. I didn’t even want to eat and now I couldn’t even pretend to eat in peace?
It was my first memory of culture shock, a term coined in 1958 to describe the anxiety or personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life. One can suffer from a lack of direction, not knowing what is appropriate or inappropriate given the different language, customs and level of development.
I later found out eating with one’s left hand is very much taboo, for reasons you may have already guessed. Looking back and replaying the scene in my head, I can’t help but laugh. But as a child, I was confused and embarrassed.
What: Whether you’ve traveled half way across the world or drove to the opposite side of town, we here at JohnnyJet.com want you to share your culture shock moments with us- from the good, the bad, and the most memorable. The best story wins a travel package valued at nearly $100 USD.
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How: Leave us with your favorite “culture shock” moment in the comment section below. Include your name and an email address. All official contest rules apply.
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Why: Take it from me. Being forced-fed curry is not a pleasant experience.