Hair etiquette - did we do something wrong?

#1 Mar 26th, 2018, 23:49
Join Date:
Mar 2018
  • EPM is offline
Hi India mike, first time poster here, long time lurker! Apologies if this is the wrong place to post this thread, I wasn't sure where else to put it. My boyfriend (M27) and I (F26) are travelling through Kerala at the moment and we have a question regarding etiquette.

On Sunday we visited Periyar National Park, and as with all tourist sites in India we got a fair bit of staring and requests for pictures, which I'm used to. Trying not to attract too much attention, we dress conservatively and aren't too affectionate with each other (we don't even hold hands in public while we're here).

At the end of the day we were sitting waiting to catch a bus and my hair came undone, so my boyfriend stood behind me and kindly put my hair clips in for me. He often does this for me so I didn't think twice about it. It took no longer than a few seconds but when we looked up several people were staring at us in what seemed like horror, and one woman sitting next to us gave us a really nasty look. She continued to look at us in this way throughout the bus journey back to Kumily.

Did we do something wrong here? I understand that most Indian husbands probably wouldn't fix their wife's hair for them, but from the reactions we got it seemed like we'd made a major faux pas. Or perhaps we misinterpreted the situation? Either way, being respectful of the local culture is really important to us so we found the whole thing quite concerning (not to mention puzzling). We'd be grateful if any Indians or experienced travellers could help explain!
#2 Mar 27th, 2018, 01:41
Join Date:
Dec 2008
In the land of awesomeness
  • aarosh is offline
There was no faux pas. They are not accustomed to see a husband fix their wife's hair. Don't let the reaction bother you.
#3 Mar 27th, 2018, 02:35
Join Date:
Aug 2004
  • RPG is offline
Yes, this is a strange one. My explanation is the same: a husband helping a wife is unheard-of in India, so they thought you were doing one of those kinky things (like holding hands) that unmarried foreigners are reputed to do without shame in public places. Somewhat forced explanation, I admit.
Last edited by RPG; Mar 28th, 2018 at 01:43..

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