yes? no? go over there???deciphering the indian head bobble

There have been many occasions in India where Shane and I feel like idiots because we don’t know the rules. Shoes off? Head covered? Can we enter? Do we need to bow? Should we be doing what everyone else is or is that disrespectful since we often have no idea what we are doing? A lot of it is a guessing game. So we ask questions!

Sometimes we don’t understand he answer because of the language barrier; and sometimes we don’t understand the answer because we get the Indian head bobble- and now we are just more confused!

For example, we were in Central Delhi and we came upon what looked like a plaza but could have been a temple because of how gorgeous it was. We were hesitant to walk in and we didn’t see any shoes in the entry way signaling “take yours off”. We finally did and then say a staircase that looked like it led to a great view of Chandi Chwock. We asked a man near to us if we were allowed to go up. He said nothing and kind of rolled his head back and to the left. Shane said “Yes?” The man did the same gesture. Shane said “No?” The man did the same gesture. No words and it seemed like he was suggesting we leave by the direction his head was moving. Shane said “Can we go in?” Same head movement, with a smile. We took that as a yes! (And ended up being correct). 

I could try to explain it in words but I think this short video shows it best…

This head bobble has quickly become one of our favorite non-verbal communication styles. Shane and I have been practicing, so be prepared for when we return! 😜


7 thoughts on “yes? no? go over there???deciphering the indian head bobble

      1. Niko was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, the early intervention we’ve been doing has helped already a lot, but now we’re scrambling to get on every wait list for every ABA certified program. He is pretty high functioning, at least. Plus he’s crazy crazy affectionate and we were told he won’t get any worse. We’re so lucky, we’re just glad for all the things it isn’t and how much worse it could be. We saw the diagnosis coming, but it was still hard to hear.


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