When we are in a foreign land we resort to our easy gesture reflexes when language barriers are at play. But sometimes our harmless hand signals could unknowingly land us in grave trouble!
Here are some of our everyday hand gestures that we thought were universal, but it turns out that’s simply not the case.
The OK gesture:
This simple gesture of OK could be totally NOT OK in many countries. We Indians tend to use this gesture even to appreciate someone or something.
But if you try to acknowledge the beautiful lasses of France with this sign, all your chivalry would go down the drain as to them this sign means “good-for-nothing”.
Well that’s not the end of your troubles; when you are in Turkey, Brazil or Venezuela; this hand signal is equivalent to the American way of flashing someone while in the Arab world this is a threatening signal. It even stands for a very boorish homosexual word in some of the South American countries.
The Thumbs-Up gesture:
The universal symbol of approval or acknowledgment used even by the social-media giant Facebook can be deadly if you use it in countries like Greece, Australia, the Middle East and even northern parts of Italy as it literally translates to “up – yours.”
So if you are visiting these countries, remember to be careful when you try to hitch a ride or try to appreciate someone for their services.
Wonder how people in these countries like a post on their FB page!
Rock-ON or the Sign-of -Horns gesture:
Next time you find yourselves in a rock-concert in Italy, Spain, or Greece; be mindful of not getting carried away and rocking this hand gesture as you might just accidentally break a marriage or a relationship. As this gesture termed the “Corna” can help you convey to your pals the delicate news of their wives having an extra-marital affair or can just be a highly derogatory remark.
Crossed Fingers gesture:
Wishing luck by crossing your fingers in Vietnam might actually turn unlucky for you, as this gesture to them refers to a women’s private part and could be deemed highly atrocious.
Beware; you can never get anyone to stop in Greece with this hand signal!
Called the “Mountza”, it has origins in their ancient history where this gesture was used as a curse and still continues to be one of the most offensive hand gestures in use even today.
So if you are trying to signal the numeral ‘5’ in Greece, be sure your palm is facing towards yourself else you would accidentally end up throwing a Mountza!
Pat on the Head:
For us Indians, the pat on the head personifies affection or a blessing. But not in countries that adhere to the Buddhist faith. In Buddhism, the head is treated as the most scared part of our body where our spirit exists. So ruffling a child’s head or patting someone’s head in countries like Thailand or Sri Lanka with a prevalent Buddhist population could be a pretty bad idea.
The beckoning gesture to signal or call someone over can be extremely impolite in many Asian cultures but it can even get you arrested in Philippines as this is a signal reserved for calling their dogs alone and can deeply hurt their sentiments if you summon someone this way.
Next-time you plan to test your charade skills to flag down a taxi or negotiate for food in a foreign land with no shared language for backing-you up, make sure you do it right; or else at least keep the regional word for “Sorry” handy before your actions spell disaster for you!