We all know that we don’t pat the back of a colleague in Korea to thank them for a “job well done”. Or eat with your left hand in India, or sip vodka in Russia. In many countries, these actions are harmless. But in others, they can give a wrong impression or cause offense.
In fact, whatever culture you’re from, it’s likely that you routinely do something that could cause offense somewhere else in the world. So here is:
A primer on how to avoid mistakes in Pakistan
Pakistanis pride themselves on their tradition of hospitality to guests (Urdu: mehmanawazi, Pashtu: milmastia, Punjabi: puranadari). When entering a house, you will often be showered with tea, sweets and gifts it’s considered ungrateful to refuse these. Finishing a meal involves a delicate balance…. cleaning your plate will invite more to be served, while leaving too much may abe a sign you didn’t care for it. Aim for leaving just a little, announcing you’re full, and heavily praise the food. Most of the Pakistani women don’t usually interact with strangers.
So, don’t get embarrassed if they avoid communicating with you. Business tends to move slowly, and will often be preceded by a lot of socializing, tea drinking, and meeting of the family. Rushing to the point may be considered rude, and even sour the deal. Pakistan is a conservative country and it is advisable for women to wear long skirts or trousers in public (Pakistani women wear the traditional shalwar kameez. But in the big cities, women wearing jeans and khakis is not very uncommon sight, especially in casual settings, shopping malls and around picnic spots).
Dress codes for men are more lax, though shorts are uncommon. Men should never shake hands with or touch a woman they don’t know very well. As with most of South Asia, you should use your right hand for eating, shaking hands and giving or receiving everything (including money), and reserve your left hand for handling shoes and assisting in toilet duties.
With this, you had the primer on key facts about Pakistan, and key facts on culture and customs. Another important part of the culture is the local food and the local drinks. Make sure you read our posts on Pakistan food and drinks:
Other tips that you’d like to share on mistakes to avoid in Pakistan? Please comment below.