Dos and Don’ts

Dress to Impress: Mumbai is less conservative than most major Indian cities, but you’ll still be better received if you dress modestly—leave low-cut shorts, tank tops, and ripped clothes at home. For women, loose non-revealing attire or a salwar kameez (Indian tunic and trouser combination) is recommended.

Sacred Matters: Whenever visiting a place of worship (temple, mosque) dress and act respectfully—no kidding around, cuddling, smoking, or loud talking. Shoes must be removed. Some holy sites require men and women to sit separately. Refrain from touching carved deities and from directing the soles of your feet at religious images or worshippers. Women need head cover for mosques, while both sexes require it for gurdwaras (Sikh temples). Leather items (belts, wallets) aren’t allowed in Jain temples, and menstruating women are requested not to visit. If you’re ever unsure about protocols simply watch or ask locals.

Table Manners: It’s considered good manners to wash your hands before and after eating. Protocol advises that the right hand be used for eating (the left is used for dirty chores such as taking off shoes, toilet duties, etc.). If invited to dine at a private home, it’s nice to take a gift (sweets, flowers) and to remove your shoes before entering the house.

Photography: Photography may be prohibited at temples and other sacred sites or religious events (ask if unsure); if permitted, flash photography inside shrines may not be allowed (again, ask). Apart from general crowd scenes, it’s polite to ask permission before photographing people, especially women. Photography is banned at areas of military significance, which can include bridges and train stations.

Phrase Book

Namaste: Hello/Goodbye. Pronounced num-uh-stare

Shukriya: Thank you. Pronounced shu-kree-yar

Aap kaise hai: How are you? Pronounced arp-kays-air-hay

Ji ha: Yes. Pronounced gee-haar

Ji nahi: No. Pronounced gee-nay-hee

…kahaang hai?: Where is the…? Pronounced car-har-hair

Acha: I understand or OK. Pronounced uch-are

Ruko!: Stop! Pronounced rroo-core

Chai: Tea. Pronounced cch-eye

Pani: Water. Pronounced par-knee

Lakh: 100,000. Pronounced lack

Crore: Ten million. Pronounced craw

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