Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Faux Pas: What Richard, Cameron and Liz Hurley Need to Know

"Embarassing," was what a Sudanese friend told me about the situation back home where Sudanese citizens (actually paid government employees, was what my friend told me) were asking for the head of a British teacher for naming a teddy bear as "Muhammad." Liz Hurley was sued for drinking alcohol during a wedding and wearing her shoes in the madrap or sacred ground. Cameron Diaz wore a Shining Path T-shirt. Richard Gere kissed Shilpa Shetty and he was torched as an effigy and Big Brother winner Shetty now know what Big Brother means.
Telegraph gave us this foreign faux pas:

1 Blowing your nose into a handkerchief in Japan. The Japanese call snot hanakuso - literally "nose shit" - and find the idea of walking around with a cloth full of it disgusting.

2 Getting your host's name the wrong way round in China. In the Far East name order is reversed, with the surname first, then a middle, generational name, then a given name. So calling Mr Li Wong Chee of Beijing "Mr Chee" would be like calling Mr John William Smith of London "Mr John".

3 Confusing a Canadian with an American. Or a Paraguayan with a Uruguayan, an Englishman with an Irishman or an Australian with a Kiwi. Neighbours are always the twitchiest about each other. (or a Filipino with a Korean, or a Filipino with a Samoan, or a Cebuano with a Boholano, or an Ilocano with a Bicolano....)

4 Keeping your shoes on in a temple or home in the Far East. Take them off at the door, everywhere from Burma to Japan. It's wise to be wearing clean socks - and do remember where you put your shoes. It's an awful bore to get back to the hotel and realise you're wearing Mr Yamazaki's brogues.

5 Looking at your feet when drinking a toast in Scandinavia. Right across Northern Europe, you should always meet your host's eye when saying "Skål!" or "Prost!" And the drink must then go down in one. If you fail to do this, the Germans say, seven years of bad sex will follow.

6 Teasing an Australian about how useless their national team is. Sport is the one sacred activity Down Under.

7 Giving a bottle of malt whisky in a pigskin bottle holder to an Arab host. If your Muslim host drinks, he certainly doesn't do so publicly, so drawing attention to his love of Glenfiddich is not the best idea. Like the dog, the pig is unclean in Arab countries, so pigskin only adds to the offence.

8 Being on time for an Argentinian dinner party. Dinner in Latin America is always late, but you should arrive later. Turning up on time isn't regarded as polite - just greedy.

9 Eating with your left hand in Africa and India. In areas where they routinely eat with their hands, you must use the right one. The left is the "unclean" hand, reserved for a related function a few hours later.

10 Leaving your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice in China or Japan. Of all chopstick no-nos this is the worst, as it mimics a Japanese funeral rite, when chopsticks and rice are left by the bedside of the newly deceased.

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