India / Sri Lanka

Look out India, I’m a Lefty

That’s right, I’m a lefty.

And in a few weeks time, I’m heading to India. India, the land of right-handed everything. The land of ‘The Right Hand Rule.’

The Right Hand Rule is the practice of only using the right hand in greetings, person to person actions, as well as for eating. The left hand is reserved only for “unsavory functions.” (I think you can figure that one out) Apparently, The Right Hand Rule exists in some fashion in various countries around Asia though it is most strictly observed In India.

“While you can hold a cup or utensil with your left hand, you shouldn’t use it to pass food or wipe your mouth. The rule extends beyond food too: only accept things given to you with your right hand, for example,” says the Rough Guide to India. Geez.

Vegetable thali | Bhaktapur, Nepal

I have to be honest – I’m a little worried.

I am basically unable to use my dominant hand – the one I’m trained to use for nearly everything except for navigating my computer’s mouse and pulling up the parking brake. I know I’m going to forget. I’m going to forget when a piece of hair tickles my face when a breeze passes through a restaurant. I’m going to forget when fumbling around my wallet looking for proper change. (I can already imagine myself dropping Rupees all over the ground when trying to pay for lunch) I’m going to forget to use only my right hand to give anything to anyone. That’s a tough thing, to just all of sudden stop using your left hand one day after 33 years of lefty-ness.

So with good reason, I’m worried I am going to inadvertently offend the people of this country that I’m so excited to visit. I may end up traveling though Kerala with my head held low in shame and sadness.

But I am super excited for this trip regardless. We’ll be taking off on an adventure to see Sri Lanka and southern India. In Sri Lanka, we’ll see ancient Buddhist temples, wild elephants, tea plantations, and colonial beach towns. Then we’ll fly to Cochin, India to kayak Kerala’s famous backwaters and enjoy sunsets by the city’s Chinese fishing nets.

nepal vegetarian samosas from a street cart in Pokhara nepal

Don’t pick this up with your left hand Annie!

The Right Hand Rule is not serious etiquette in Sri Lanka luckily. But in India, I really need to watch it. I’m sure there is forgiveness for foreigners, but I always *always* go out of my way to respect my surroundings. I cover the body parts that need covering, I lay off the PDA in places where that is frowned upon, and am quiet when asked to be quiet. But this one is going to be harder to abide by.

How am I going to do this?!? I have a few ideas.

#1: Duct Tape

I could totally duct tape my left arm to my side. But I don’t really want to bring duct tape and scissors halfway around the world, nor do I want to get a duct-tape-tan. So this one’s not ideal.

#2: Write a reminder, in colorful Sharpie, on the back of my hand

This may help, but then I’m that tourist with the tween-y note written on my skin that completely gives away the fact that I’m a lefty since I’d probably have to write myself a pretty obvious note like “DO NOT USE ME” in order to remember why I’ve got middle-school style scribbles on me. Sigh.

#3: Sit on my left hand

This one is probably the most promising of my options since it requires no materials or permanent marker and would definitely remind me not to use it. Oh wait, I’m not gonna be sitting the whole time I’m in India. So nope, not my answer.

#4: Actually Remember Every Time

Let’s be honest, this is not going to happen. Do you always think what hand to use for scratching when you have an itch on your face? Cause I don’t.

So, I’m stumped.

TO ALL MY FELLOW LEFTIES OUT THERE…when visiting a country with The Right Hand Rule, how do you remember to keep that thing undercover and break out the right hand?





  • jenny adams
    May 8, 2014 at 9:07 pm


    good luck little one

    • Annie
      May 9, 2014 at 10:39 am

      should i put a mitten on it? or you can come too and remind me constantly. yes, that would work as well.


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