India Travel Safety

Why Do Indians like to Take Photos with Foreigners? [Selfies Included!]

When you’re travelling in India, you’re likely to be asked many times during your trip to take a selfie with a local. It’s a strange thing to experience. It makes you feel a bit like a celebrity.

I’ve had everyone under the sun ask me for a photo. Guys, girls, kids, men, women, babies (well, their parents), groups of friends, entire families, entire school classrooms, the list goes on. This usually only happens at tourist attractions or small villages and towns; there’s a reason for this.

Selfie with a group of teenagers in a park. Photo © Karl Rock.
Selfie with a group of teenagers at Jallianwala Bagh. Photo © Karl Rock.

So why do so many people want a photo with a foreigner?

It’s because many domestic Indian tourists have little or no contact with foreigners where they’re from. Perhaps they’re from a city like Panipat in Haryana where no tourist ventures.

Domestic Indian tourists go on holiday to a big city like Delhi to see the sites. Meeting a foreigner and having photographic proof is a good story for them to take home. Imagine if the West wasn’t so multicultural, we too would be interested in a photo and conversation with people from different ethnic groups. It’d be new and exciting for us also.

Be careful

It can get overwhelming. As soon as one person sees you’ve agreed to a photo a queue can form. It goes from one to ten pictures quickly. I once had to cut a relaxing visit to Jallianwala Bagh near The Golden Temple in Amritsar short because a crowd was forming.

Indians are very inquisitive, so when they see a crowd they immediately want to know what’s going on there, crowds multiply quickly. They’ll even stop cars and motorcycles in the middle of the road to go look at what’s going on. If a crowd starts forming, it can become overwhelming and disruptive; time to exit stage left.

Selfie with a man in a park in Amritsar. Photo © Karl Rock.
Selfie with a man in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar. Photo © Karl Rock.

Taking selfies can eventually lead to someone taking advantage of you though. I once had a guy try to kiss me on the cheek while taking a photo. He didn’t connect with my cheek as I was too fast for his bromancing, phew! Be wary of stray lips and hands as some men will try to get too cosy with both male and female tourists.

When on the beach in places like Goa females should be aware that it’s common to see young Indian guys sneakily taking photos of women wearing revealing swimsuits. Wear a sarong if you’re in a very public area and remove it when you go into the water for swimming.

Despite the risks of taking selfies, I still rarely say no to taking a photo. I use it as an opportunity to practice my Hindi with a local. After a while, I decided to also ‘click pics’ (as they call it in India) with people who asked me!

You can view all of my selfies at My Selfie Experiment in India.

Selfie with a classroom on a school trip in Meghalaya. Photo © Karl Rock.
Selfie with a classroom on a school trip in Meghalaya. Photo © Karl Rock.

Share your favourite selfie! Upload it to and post the link in the comments!

By Karl Rock

Karl Rock, is a Hindi speaking Kiwi ex-pat who take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India and its neighbours. He has visited every state and union territory in India, and its culturally similar neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh, and aims to make others fall in love with India and the subcontinent.

4 replies on “Why Do Indians like to Take Photos with Foreigners? [Selfies Included!]”

I saw the title and got curious to know why they want to take photo with foreigners… interesting experiences with people 🙂

Delhi? I hope you have an extra pair of lungs on ice waiting for you back home. Lots to see tho, and we also have our share of stories of India. We desperately wanterd to leave after 4 months, but a few years later we had to return. There isn’t a country like India, you can communicate with the locals in English – the funniest accent- and it’s relatively safe ( ok, maybe not Delhi) eventho poverty is allover.. In the south they are more relaxed, the obsession with white ppl and the non-existing private space thingy is worse in North India.

Take care and hope you can add lots of new experiences to your personal memory lane, for those grandchildren;)

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