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Why in India people burp when eating (or at any other point of time)

  • Me: Hello, how are you today? 
  • My colleague: I’m not too good, I’ve got gas.

 Oh Lord, gaaas??? How graceful! So for one thing my question was rhetorical and for another thing, gas??? Oh, this is gonna be a long, long day… 

I wrote in August 2008 that while I "was peacefully walking in the street, a tiny old woman, passing by my side, let go of such a powerful burp that I would have been less shocked if she had called me a dirty bitch...".  


Five years later, this topic is still big for me; for instance I recently had to inform one of my managers that if he wanted to promote one of his sales guys one day, he would have to start by asking him to stop burping all the time. This PIG makes me lose my appetite every time we eat together. He burps a good ten times during the meal. And not the small burps eh, no he goes all out, gives everything he has...  

It is perhaps socially accepted (even appreciated) in India but when you work for an international company, you have to know the customs of your colleagues to avoid shocking your CEO visiting your country for a couple of days (and also losing all credit – yes I know, it’s sad but it is like this, we judge based on appearances...) 


I am no one to give moral lessons to an Indian who would let out a huge fart in a train. But when my colleague blew my right ear with his burp, at a moment I was least expecting it (I was sitting in the car and on the phone), I forbade him very strongly to ever repeat this with me, ever again... So that we could share a good professional understanding. I do my best to adapt but I must admit, it is really hard when it comes to all these body noises...


It is actually probably the right thing to do and let the nature do, mind you but I just can't! Indians farts and burps a lot because 1. They don't restrain themselves, 2. They eat a lot of spicy food (which increases gases). Simple! 


Here is what I had found on the burping theme at the time: 


I asked myself “why am I such a prude?”, “why, even after 2 years, I still lose myRot.jpg appetite when an Indian guy burps loudly in the middle of a meal or why hearing someone clearing his throat in the restaurant sink gives me nausea? Why do I feel like slapping my Indian boss when he farts during a meeting? 

Bah… I think that's CUL-TU-RAL... In Asia and the Middle East, a good eructation means that one has enjoyed the meal. In the Western world it is downright "yucky" (quote from the net which I fully support). 


And yet, yet... These burping things have long been accepted in the West too. 


For example, in the Roman empire: 

"Burping at the table was a politeness justified by philosophers who thought that following the nature was the wisest thing to do." Pushing further this doctrine, the Emperor Claudius had taken an edict authorizing emitting other gaseous sounds. In his epigrams, Martial shows off to his hosts by calling with a snap of fingers the slave who brings them the urinal and helps them to use it. Finally, it was common to see, at the end of the cena, vomit soiling the precious mosaics of the floor. “ (1)  


Then in the Middle-Age (2) (and you'll see that we are not far from the India of today!):  

At the time, we ate very spicy food (and this causes gases (and Indians eat very spicy)); this was the era of spicy stews. (3)  

Food is caught with the hands (which are regularly dipped in bowls of herbs to disinfect and perfume – fingerballs!). (4) 

And people spat: "In the Middle Age, spitting was not only a custom, but also a natural need. The only restrictions that apply the courteous knights were to not spit on the table or across the table, but only under the table. » (5)  


And finally at the Renaissance (I think this is the time burping started to become gross in Europe): 

“Table manners appear in the nobility around 1530 following the publication of a book entitled Civilitas morum puerilium by Erasmus.” (6) Mundane meals became a sort of show where everyone shows off to be recognised for his rank. Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) brought the fork (with two teeth), fine earthenware and glassware, but we continued to eat with the fingers. At the table, the banks of the Middle-Age were replaced by individual seats, the towel became routine: it was very big to protect the flanges. On the tables, spices were easy to grab and they started serving meals with some order: it began with fruits, then gruels, the roasts or the grills, to finish by desserts. » (7)  



india,table manner,farting,burping,eructationI did a small research and this is not an Indian who holds the record for the world loudest burp - they could, mind you, they already hold the record of longest hairs in the ears! (see post) - but a British, Hunnwhose burp reached 118.1 decibels (the equivalent of a chain saw in operation). 



·         "Why don't you burp or fart? Has this meal displeased you? “ Martin Luther. 

·         "Snobbery is a Champagne bubble that hesitates between fart and burp.” Serge Gainsbourg 

·         "Who does not burp nor fart is doomed to explode.": Erasmus.

 (1) Source: emperors - Roman .net 

(2) Article_Guidecasa.com_Le middle ages to table.pdf 

(3) Source: 

(4) Source:

(5) Source:

(6) Source : Des bonnes manières.pdf

(7) Source :

(8) Source : Wikipedia




Why in India fat guys have the paunch of a pregnant woman?

india,big paunch,big tummy,big belly,fat,pregnant women,overweight,obesity,sport,gym,food,ganesh,genetics,hair in the ears,abdominal fat,apple shape,pear shape,yoga,diabetes,dwayne leverock,cricket,weightI've always wondered whether it was only in my head or the belly of paunchy Indians had a special shape. To put it simply, they look like pregnant women. It also happens to quite a few Indian women past their fifties (which makes me wonder every time I meet one “isn’t she too old to be pregnant?”). 

With a little research I found out that it is not only in India that overweight men are more apple-shaped than pear-shaped (a female prerogative)! 

Some people are more prone to accumulate visceral fat that grows deep in the abdomen and around the organs which gives the belly the apple shape. And others retain subcutaneous fat (under the skin) which often settles in the lower part of the body, including the hips and legs. (1)  

And that would be genetic: it is not the same genes that are most active in abdominal fat and thigh fat, and the location of these genes depends on the solicitation of hormones during development. (2)   


From there, it is quite possible that Indian males have a particular genetic issue, as they already have a genetic predisposition to have hairs in the ears (cf post). A certain Dr. Patel also claims that “in the United States, the accumulation of fat occurs in the whole body but in India it is centered around the belly”. (3)  


But other factors can play in the advent of the appled Indian...  


india,big paunch,big tummy,big belly,fat,pregnant women,overweight,obesity,sport,gym,food,ganesh,genetics,hair in the ears,abdominal fat,apple shape,pear shape,yoga,diabetes,dwayne leverock,cricket,weightI thought for a moment about Zola and his Nana who was so beautiful because she was fat and fair skinned. Where a fat tummy would be a (ostentatious) sign of wealth of the man who got away from manual chores. But even poor guys often have a big paunch here (when they are not super skinny).  


In India, it's too hot to work out! Indians are not sportive – 9 gold medals in 21 participations at the Olympics (4), it gives the tone! And don’t get me started with cricket... First many players are far from having the bodies of soccer players (see the picture of Dwayne Leverock, who did not hesitate to throw his 120 kilos to catch the ball during the 2007 World Cup (one of the only games I've watched and an action I will never forget!)). (5) Secondly most of the (adult) cricket fans prefer to play cricket German-style: watching it on TV! 

I agree yoga was born in India. But on one hand yoga is more about feeling well in your body than getting an hourglass figure (you can just look at my yoga teacher if you need proof) and on the other hand yoga became popular in India only quite recently – after it became fashionable in the West actually! (6)   


That being said, people are more and more aware of problems related to overweight, such as diabetes that affects more than 40 million Indians – here again they seem to have a local genetic predisposition for this disease (7). Hence an explosion of the number of gyms in lately: from almost none when I arrived in 2006 to thousands today. But well, only 0.23 million Indians are believed to have a gym membership... (8) So we can safely say that Indians are culturally anti-sportive!india,big paunch,big tummy,big belly,fat,pregnant women,overweight,obesity,sport,gym,food,ganesh,genetics,hair in the ears,abdominal fat,apple shape,pear shape,yoga,diabetes,dwayne leverock,cricket,weight  


And there is food... Traditionally Indian food is rich in carbohydrates (rice, wheat) and fats (a curry is not a curry if it is not full of butter or ghee). And on top of this Indians are fond of snacking. 


And last but not least, I think that Indians do not find a big paunch unaesthetic. The dream of my ex-favourite Indian when he was a kid was to have a big tummy like his dad! 


Just have a look at Ganesh and his belly (human but elephantine size!)…  

india,big paunch,big tummy,big belly,fat,pregnant women,overweight,obesity,sport,gym,food,ganesh,genetics,hair in the ears,abdominal fat,apple shape,pear shape,yoga,diabetes,dwayne leverock,cricket,weight 

Or the regular comments I get on my weight (here).  










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