I first was amused when I heard about the incident in India where Richard Gere publicly hugged and kissed Indian Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty at an Aids awareness event. He caused an uproar from the Indian public. Yesterday he a warrant was issued. I saw the incident on CNN (read the whole story here) and must say for all Richard Gere ought to know about the country he traveled and supports, he seems to have no sensitivity or clue about the Indian culture. It was not just a kiss, it seemed he was all over Shilpa and took her by surprise. I was a bit shocked by his behavior that would be totally okay in the West but not in Asia.
All this makes me think about traveling and living in other countries. How sensitive do we need to the culture of the country we travel to? Would we break a law just by insulting the people in the country. In some countries we would do this and would perhaps even loose your live over it. In other countries it is frowned about it, but nothing more would happen, except that the reputation of foreigners diminishes.
Here in Thailand there is a growing "westernization" through foreign tourists and ex-pats. Most of the cultural insensitivity done here are looked on with a Thai smile and eagerly discussed among themselves without having an apparent effect. Other things bring swift contribution. Like the Swiss bloke who spray painted pictures of the King of Thailand. If His majesty the King would not have pardoned Jufer he would have stayed in jail for 10 years. (Read the story here)
There are cultural laws here the can be enforced. Some of them seem to be latent here but are still in use. Remember we are guests in the country and we have to be sensitive towards our host country