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Doing Business in India For Dummies® by Ranjini Manian

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Eating: The Indian Way

Food is an integral part of any society, and each culture has its own culinary and dining traditions. In India, meals are a major preoccupation and a yardstick of hospitality. The country has a range of cuisine as varied as its rich geography, history, and language. In fact, each region has its own distinctive food traditions.

You’re likely to share business related meals with Indians in restaurants or country clubs. They like to entertain and host. Offering food is an integral part of Indian hospitality. And hospitality is an integral part of building business relationships. Depending on how close you are to your colleagues, you may get to enjoy a meal in an Indian home.

Getting the lay of the table

Indians don’t do business over breakfast or lunch primarily because they expect that their Western guests want to have an alcoholic drink with their meals and Indians who drink usually do so in the evening before dinner.

Indians are very gracious hosts, and they lay a fabulous table. Buffet dinners either at a private room in a hotel or at the host’s house are common among business partners. People eat with spoons rather than forks and knives, although these pieces of cutlery are sometimes provided. It’s also possible that you may be expected to eat with your hands (see the section “In good taste: Eating with your hands” later in this chapter).

At an Indian banquet, you can expect

A seating arrangement that segregates the sexes
A lot of drinking before dinner ...

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