Are you trying to blend in? Not break any social rules, customs, or niceties? Well, good luck with that. To help you out, here’s a list of faux pas from Wikipedia.
Items of note:
- In Malaysia pointing with your forefinger is considered impolite (especially when pointing at people). Instead, a closed fist held sideways (thumb at the top) with the thumb pointing the direction is used.
I thought politicians only did this.
- In Australia requesting items like a fanny pack in Australia can be considered obscene due to the usage of "fanny" as referring to a woman's genitalia. Bumbag is an acceptable local variation.
- In Bangladesh closing one's eyes during a meal is said to invite demonic possession of the hosts.
- Germany has 37 points of politeness!
- In Nicaragua calling someone a "cochón"(homosexual), when you really want to buy a "colchón" (mattress).
I can’t tell you how many times this happened to me when I was traveling in Nicaragua last year. Very embarrassing. Almost as uncomfortable as hauling the mattress around the country.
Just to show you how useful this list is, here’s what it has for the United States:
- It is considered impolite to ask a woman how old she is or inquire about her weight.
- Emitting any powerful odor or smell, whether due to lack of hygiene, diet, or applied perfumes, can be considered a violation of others' personal space. The application of perfume or cologne may be considered embarrassingly overdone if their scent is detectable beyond the close personal proximity of the wearer. In recent years the smell of smoke from the use of tobacco products has also become socially unacceptable, except in areas specifically designated for smoking.
And here I’ve been walking around smelling from “lack of hygiene” asking women, “How much you weigh baby?” Oops. I'm a heathen in my own country.