When a Kiss Is Not Just a Kiss
Poor Richard Gere. The silver-maned, ultra-PC actor has been getting slammed in India for kissing a local actress several times at a Mumbai charity event -- kind of reminiscent of that creepy Adrien Brody-Halle Berry moment at the Academy Awards a few years back.
In both cases, the women were subsequently very gracious about being manhandled. The difference is that Gere didn't realize he was violating an Indian taboo with his public display of affection. Indian newspapers carried the story on their front pages, TV news replayed the scenes, citizens filed legal complaints and Gere was even burned in effigy by demonstrators.
Moral: Read up on the cultural taboos, do's and don'ts of the countries you visit. The consequences of not doing so can be disastrous. For example, did you know that the seemingly innocuous hand gesture for "A-OK" is considered a vile insult in Brazil? Or that it's bad form to pat someone on the head in Thailand, or to show the soles of your shoes in Muslim countries?
Have you ever found out the hard way that you'd violated a cultural taboo in your travels? Share it here. Might help the rest of us out.
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