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7 Peculiar Similarities between Indian and Italian Culture

When I travel to Italy, I often feel a strange sense of comfort because of the similarities between India and Italy. Not only do we operate similarly in culture but also in personalities (open, friendly, family oriented etc). No wonder Italy is called the India of Europe. So what is common between the Indian and Italian culture?? I thought of asking a local’s opinion to hear views from an Italian perspective. I’m super pleased to welcome Sara from the amazing blog “My Dear Italia” to discuss about “7 peculiar Similarities between Indian and Italian culture”. Sara, who shares about her native Italia on her blog, points out very valid points that make the two of the greatest cultures of the world so alike!!

DisclaimerA lot of these may seem stereotypical so we request you to be mindful that this post is generic. We do hope you will respect this and enjoy the read.

Credits: Unsplash

7 Peculiar Similarities between Indian and Italian Culture

1. Mammas boys or Mammone:

In India:

Indian men are known to be mammas boys. Most of them are extremely pampered by their mothers and are brought up like kings. Moms feel it is their right to interfere in their son’s lives even when they are grown up. While the moms mollycoddle too much, the problem is also the patriarchal setup of the society. Men are always given more attention in the house and this has passed on to the next generations slowly.

Things are surely changing, especially in the younger generations, but I do feel it will take a long time to really see men outgrow out of their mother’s laps.

Even today, women are made to feel bad by their mothers, mother in laws and sometimes even relatives, if they don’t do household chores and the man is doing them!

In Italy by My Dear Italia:

In Italy, the prospect of the mammone is one of the main fears for Italian women when in a new relationship. It is still a thing, but if in the past it was something to be sort of expected, nowadays the common perception is slowly changing. At least at the level of media, it’s more condemned.

Concerning chores, I have to say I did notice a changing in comparison with the past: for the generation of my grandparents. For example, it was common for men to know literally nothing about cooking and laundry. Now, probably given to solo- and student life, you see more men managing at least a minimum of chores.

Also the role of padre-padrone has basically disappeared and young fathers are more affectionate and involved in growing up their children. What is more worrying to me, to be honest, is the emotional co-dependency there is between mothers and sons.

In a study carried out in 2016, it resulted that in Italy the responsibility of the 30% of the separations was to be attributed somehow to the suocera, the mother-in-law.

The mother of the male counterpart is oftentimes too present in the son’s marriage, being nosy and belittling the role and the work of the daughter-in-law, worrying that the precious child is somehow being mistreated. (This is true in India too!)

The bad thing is that the man tends not to take the side of the wife, worried of hurting the mother (who often emotionally manipulates him) or totally enjoying being spoiled and treated like a child.

It is often said that the concept of family is one of the greatest things to experience in Italy, but it is not bed of roses sometimes.

Credits: Unsplash


2. Over Obsession with food:

In India:

We love our food and are proud of the rich heritage of unique flavors and spices. It is no surprise that every region in India boasts that their food is the best. It is so similar to Italy that when I was traveling in the region of Emilia Romagna I noticed how people from Parma would belittle the food of other cities of their own region! This is very true for India too.

The South of India often feels that their dishes are lighter, tastier and healthier while the boastful North proudly carries the concept of doing the best food in the country.

But I have to mention that despite these regional differences, we eat regional food at our homes. For example, I’m a North Indian but ever since I was young, I’ve eaten a lot of South Indian food at home. Food such as idlis, dosas, utthapam etc. are more poplar in the breakfast routine too.

Credits: Unsplash
Credits: Unsplash

In Italy by My Dear Italia:

Italians love their food but what people might not know is that our passion concerning food goes beyond the meals. Food and recipes are Italians’ favorite topics of conversation!! It is similar like the weather is for the British folks.

It is a tough world for people who are not foodies, when all you can hear about is related to food. In comparison with other, we give much more sentimental value to dishes, as they often remind us of our childhood and our grandmas!

It is also quite known that Italians are famous for being “food-nazis” as we tend not to accept variations on the traditional recipes. I would like to reassure Non-Italians, though: Italians venting at people “ruining” traditional dishes are quite common also within the country, the rage is not directed only toward foreigners!

Every once in a while you see Italians trying to replace guanciale with bacon when making a carbonara and that’s when all hell breaks loose!

Credits: Unsplash


3. Cutting queues:

In India:

We are notoriously famous for cutting queues and jumping ahead of others. It is super frustrating. People sometimes sneakily avoid the other’s eye and smartly cut the line, only to hear a hundred abuses from the people behind in the line.

As Sara explains below, jumping the line is also common when people are of a certain age. But the only way to survive?? It is to fight!

Credits: Unsplash

In Italy by My Dear Italia:

Italians cutting the queue, people arguing about that or even queues literally being non-existent with shapeless masses of people fighting for their right to be served first are sadly the norm in Italy.

What’s surprising to most people is that the serial queue-cutters are older people, oftentimes innocent-looking grandmas that, despite being in retirement and allegedly having no-rush whatsoever, who jump the line probably thinking that their age represents some sort of “skip the line” ticket.

The situation has definitely improved with the pandemic, since people are forced to stay in a line in order to respect the social distancing measures. Not sure, though, if this good habit will stay in place after this COVID nightmare will be over.

I’m not going to lie here, in order to survive queues in Italy, you have to be prepared to fight!

Also Read: Saravati Association- promoting Indian Culture in Italian


4. Arriving late:

In India:

Another peculiar similarity between Indian and Italian culture is arriving late. In India, there is such a thing as “Indian Standard Time”. By that I don’t mean the solar time but the Indian time of arriving at a certain place!

Just like the Italians, we are often known to be late everywhere we go. In India, reaching on time is not cool. While these may be stereotypes, a lot of people are still like that. It is very hard for people here to respect the other’s time. They would lightly joke or pass a sarcastic comment if someone was actually on time!

There is that whole Chalta hai (chi se ne frega) attitude that encourages people to do this more.

Credits: Unsplash

It is quite common for people to arrive late 30-60 minutes later than the anticipated arrival time of a party for instance. Because who would want to reach a place on time??!! No one would be there!

In Italy by My Dear Italia:

On a general note I would say that in friends and family’s situations, we tend not to be on the dot and being late is often tolerated when we host parties or we are casually hanging out. Basically we cut ourselves some slack, as we are talking about free time. In this sense we are surely more “relaxed” than many Northern Europeans, who consider being late very disrespectful even in such situations.

I feel like this attitude is influenced by the view we have on life and free time. We don’t see the point on stressing ourselves and the others over a moment in our daily life which is meant to make ourselves relax.

Life is already stressful enough without having to make a friend feel guilty for being 5 minutes late. Having said that, “being late” has nothing to do with “regional habits” as I’ve seen stating around. There are serial latecomers and people on time like in all the other cultures and it depends on personal attitudes and how you were brought up.

Credits: Unsplash

5 . Obnoxious driving:

In India:

I have very little to say about this as I don’t drive myself but Sara explains the point very well below and that can be said of every Indian town and city. Fight to survive!

In Italy by My Dear Italia:

The thing of the Romans driving like crazy tends to be true and it’s mostly due to how the city is structured: there are not enough parking spots and the traffic is generally badly managed. For these reasons driving in Rome is like the Hunger Games: you have to fight if you want to survive. There’s no other way.

6. Hand gestures:

In India:

We talk not only with our hands but also with our heads, we nod (to show agreement) we wobble, we waggle or do a headshake. I found this article very useful to those of you are interested to read more of our head bobs 😉

Credits: Google

In Italy by My Dear Italia:

Hand gestures are so ingrained in Italy that sometimes I don’t get all the fuss people make about the topic “Italians and hand gestures”. There are plenty of cultures that use them. I guess that ours are perhaps emphatic and picturesque?

I personally consider hand gestures as a way to grab the attention and better deliver your message. Furthermore, it is important in a country like ours, where people constantly talk over one another and where’s there’s a lot of “background noise”.

Honestly, this is not an Italian trait that I resent, quite the contrary. It also makes me laugh seeing people making fun of us for our hand gestures and then seeing them taking classes of persuasive communication.

Hand gestures are simply non-verbal communication, which, very often, is more effective than the verbal one.

Watch this video on Italian hand gestures!!

7. Family is everything!!

In India:

This is a peculiar but one of the most important similarity between the Indian and Italian culture.

Family is everything, I even need to say more. It is EVERYTHING. The moment you set foot in an Indian household, you should know that family is your support system, your friend and your lifetime companion.

Even if you’re married, your obligations and duties don’t stop. In fact they multiply. And there is a constant nosiness and interference that makes Indian families very blurred on personal boundaries too. Sara also points the same problem in Italian families!

In India family home comes first for everything including marriages, for rituals, festivities, prayers etc. Everything revolves around how your father, grandfather and forefathers did things. And then again, there is this constant need to create a clan.

Credits: Unsplash

In Italy by My Dear Italia:

Things might have changed over time, the birth rate is dramatically low and people living alone are increasing, yet family is still the foundation of the entire Italian society. There’s no doubt about that.

Family is an incomparable support system in a society where the Government is something very distant and oblivious of the everyday needs of the population. In its highest and noblest form, family is like a small society that can support itself and everyone has a role.

The grandparents can replace kindergartens and the offspring can look after the elderly when needed. This obviously creates a sense of clan, with both pros and cons: the emotional support is there. But personal boundaries are often blurred and there is a ton of disregard for privacy. Even despite the chaos, family is still the most important thing.

Credits: Unsplash

That’s it folks! What do you think of these peculiar cultural similarities between Indian and Italian culture?? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Don’t forget to PIN:

Indians are the Italians of Asia and vice versa. Every man in both countries is a singer when he is happy, and every woman is a dancer when she walks to the shop at the corner. For them, food is the music inside the body and music is the food inside the heart.

Gregory David Roberts 

11 Comments

  • Cristina
    August 31, 2021 at 2:26 am

    Brava, ragazze! Yes, my parents’ generation does not have a clue about forming a line. I don’t know about the being late thing. it’s not something I have ever noticed in my family but it could be a regional thing. I feel like I haven’t been to Italia for so long now, that I don’t know what is what any more. Let’s hope we can get there safely soon! Ciao, Cristina

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      August 31, 2021 at 12:21 pm

      Grazie cara Cristina, we really appreciate your support for this post. It took a lot of time and effort. And yes, someone else also mentioned about it being regional. Let’s hope we can get to Italy soon! x

      Reply
  • Tanja/the red phone box travels
    August 27, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    This was a very interesting read. I shall now think of India as Italy in Asia🙂

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      August 30, 2021 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks for reading through Tanja 🙂 Haha yes.

      Reply
  • Sara - My Dear Italia
    August 26, 2021 at 11:14 am

    Cara, again, thanks for having me here. I enjoyed working on this little project of ours A LOT!
    Un forte abbraccio dall’Italia 💖
    Sara

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      August 27, 2021 at 9:51 am

      It was an honor and pleasure to know your “Italian” thoughts 😀 Grazie a te. We must do more of these. Un abbraccio forte. x

      Reply
  • KareninCalabria
    August 26, 2021 at 12:25 am

    Interesting and entertaining post – made me smile! I’ve always thought that the little old women cutting lines in food markets were the worst, and now I have the confirmation from an Italian!

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      August 26, 2021 at 10:39 am

      Thanks Karen, glad it made you smile. I hope you got to know a lot of the Indian culture through this. x

      Reply
    • Sara - My Dear Italia
      August 27, 2021 at 7:05 pm

      Haha, they are indeed THE WORST! Thanks for reading, Karen <3

      Sara

      Reply
  • lorenza
    August 25, 2021 at 8:57 pm

    Interesting post! From my 100% Italian point of view I agree on everything, except on 4. Arriving late. The rule of thumb here in Italy is that the more you go southbound, the more people arrive late. If you plan to meet some friends, let’s say, in Milan at 8 p.m. they won’t wait for you a single minute after that time, even if you are on your way… but if you are going to dinner at the same time in Naples, you won’t see a soul before 8.30-9 p.m. It is true that in informal parties, especially when you go to someone’s house, the time is not mandatory. On formal occasion, however, being late is not so fashionable… ciao!

    Reply
    • Italophilia
      August 26, 2021 at 10:38 am

      Thanks Lorenza for commenting here! I guess a lot of the rules are regional and some of them are also stereotypes so could be a bit of both 🙂 Ciao

      Reply

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