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Adaptation to life in India: Can you do it?

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

If you're a retiree or an NRI (Non-Resident Indian) planning to adapt to the cultural environment in India, here are some tips to help you navigate and immerse yourself in the local culture:

Adaptation to life in India

  1. Embrace the diversity: India is a culturally diverse country with various languages, religions, and traditions. When you travel to a different part of India, you encounter a different language, cuisine, mode of dress, etc...

  2. Learn the language: While English is widely spoken in India, learning a few basic phrases of the local language can go a long way in making connections and building relationships with the locals. It shows your interest and respect for the culture. India, has 22 formally acknowledged languages and the top ones are Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, Urdu, Kannada, Odia, Malayalam.

  3. Respect social norms and customs: Indian society has its own set of social norms and customs. Familiarize yourself with these norms, such as greetings, dining etiquette, and dress codes, to avoid unintentional offense. Observing and respecting local customs will help you integrate into the community more smoothly. For example, rather than use your first name, a respectful attitude is expected for older people hence people may refer to you as 'Uncle' or 'Aunty', as a show of respect.

  4. Build connections: Indians are known for their warm hospitality and strong community ties. Take the initiative to build relationships with your neighbors, join local clubs or organizations, and participate in community events. Engaging with locals will help you understand the culture better and create a support network.

  5. Explore local cuisine: Indian cuisine is incredibly diverse and delicious. Be adventurous and try different regional dishes. You can visit local markets, street food stalls, and restaurants to experience the authentic flavors of India. *** Drink tea/chai when you are out. Avoid drinking the local water, get tap water for brushing your teeth, keep your mouth closed when showering, eat fruit that has a peel and rinse fruits/vegetables with bottled water.

  6. Understand the concept of time: India operates on a more relaxed concept of time, known as "Indian Standard Time" (IST). Meetings or events might not always start at the scheduled time.

  7. Stay informed about current events: Keep yourself updated on local news, festivals, and events happening around you. There are many festivals, concerts that take place in most major cities, check out

  8. Travel within the country: India is a vast and diverse country, offering a wide range of landscapes, historical sites, and cultural experiences. Take the opportunity to explore different regions, visit famous landmarks, and learn about the rich history and heritage of India.

  9. Be aware of your surroundings: While India is generally safe, it's always a good practice to be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Familiarize yourself with the local laws, follow the advice of locals, and take necessary precautions, especially when it comes to personal belongings and valuables. *** Women: It's best to travel with a companion or a group and dress modestly in the more traditional neighborhoods/areas.

  10. Keep your paperwork and cell phone around: Make sure your visa, passport, cell phone are with you in case you need to get in touch with others. Better yet, it may be worth the effort to send an email of all important documents to yourself so that you can access them easily. .

Remember, cultural adaptation takes time, so be patient with yourself and enjoy the process of immersing yourself in the vibrant and diverse culture of India.


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