Manners to observe when dating
Away from the tourist areas, however, ethnic groups are quite parochial, and foreign ways may cause offence.
That said, many taboos relax the further and higher you head into the mountains, as Hindu behavioural norms are only partially shared by Buddhist and animist ethnic groups.
It’s also bad manners to step over the legs of someone seated.
Male friends will often hold hands in public, but not lovers of the opposite sex.
The following hints apply especially in temples and monasteries.
Men should always wear a shirt in public, and long trousers if possible (shorts are fine on well-used trekking trails).
To indicate agreement, tilt your head slightly to one side and then back the other way.
To tell a tout or a seller “no”, hold one hand up in front of you, palm forwards, and swivel your wrist subtly, as if you were adjusting a bracelet; shaking the head in the Western fashion looks too much like “yes”. Hill Nepal is less rigid than much of India, but caste deeply ingrained in the national psyche.
The feet are the most unclean part, so don’t put yours on chairs or tables, and when sitting, try not to point the soles of your feet at anyone.
Major Hindu temples or their innermost sanctums are usually off-limits to nonbelievers, who are a possible cause of ritual pollution.
Where you are allowed in, be respectful, take your shoes off before entering, don’t take photos unless you’ve asked permission, and leave a few rupees in the donation box. Leather is usually not allowed in temple precincts.
Foreigners are technically casteless, but in the remote far western hills they can be considered polluting to orthodox, high-caste Hindus.
Wherever you travel you should be sensitive to minor caste restrictions: for example, you may not be allowed into the kitchen of a high-caste Hindu home. Meeting for the first time, Nepalis observe a ritual of asking each other’s name, home town and profession, which helps determine relative status and therefore the correct level of deference.
Don’t eat off someone else’s plate or offer anyone food you’ve taken a bite of, and don’t touch cooked food until you’ve bought it. The left hand is reserved for washing after defecating; you can use it to hold a glass or utensil while you eat, but don’t wipe your mouth, or pass food with it.