India is a bit wary of body contact, and public displays of affection don’t go over well. Westerners tend to like the firm handshake, steady eye contact, or a peck on the cheek as standards for a greeting, but that’s not the case in India. Indians use namaste, a multi-purpose gesture made with folded hands (see Chapter 15 for details on namaste). A handshake is as much contact as Indians hazard for a greeting, and those run the gamut from limp to quite firm.
If, in a burst of enthusiasm, you embrace your newfound partner, you may have some explaining to do. To cut through the awkwardness, tell him or her that you’re sorry if the hug was a surprise but that such displays are common in your culture. That should produce smiles all around.