When traveling to foreign countries, cultural sensitivity should be one of the first things you learn before actually traveling there. What you would conceive as okay to say or do, may not be okay in the country you are traveling to. Here are some important customs in India and Russia that are respectful; it will go a long way in how you are perceived. If you are ever unsure about a custom, ask.
Shaking hands: Men and women do not shake hands together. Men can shake another man’s hand; woman can shake another woman’s hand
Flowers: Definitely do NOT give white flowers, they have funerary significance. Instead, give yellow or red flowers as they are considered lucky.
Gift giving: This is especially important in the area you are in. A Hindu should not be given anything made of leather. Muslims should not be given anything made of pigskin or given alcohol.
In the house: ALWAYS take off your shoes before entering, dress appropriately (women should wear clothes that cover the arms, chest, and legs. Men dress casual with pants and shirt, always turn down an offer of something the first time, food is generally eaten with the fingers, and if you are eating there and become full, be sure to leave a little on the plate—if you don’t, they will think you are still hungry
Shaking hands: accepted greeting for both men and women, but be sure to enter a home before shaking hands as it is considered superstitious
Flowers: Give flowers in odd numbers, even numbers represent funeral and sympathy.
Gift giving: a small edible gift. If giving alcohol, beer or vodka is appreciated.
In the house: ALWAYS take off your shoes before entering the house, lower your voice a notch when speaking, a woman should never sit at the corner of a table as it is bad luck, let your host or hostess know when you are full or they will continue to serve you food
While many countries are forgiving to tourists’ fauz pas, cultural sensitivity is a sign of respect to learn some of their basic customs. Just as different languages or dialects can be spoken in different parts of the country, so may the customs be a little different. Ask questions and even watch if you are unsure of what to do. Never assume.