Doris, you asked:
"More on the appropriate clothing please... I'm going to Mumbai for one week at the beginning of February on business and I'm trying to work out what to take with me to wear ? i.e are exposed shoulders okay ?... how dressy for dinner ?... I'm assuming we'll be entertaining in one of the hotels or businessy type restaurants... what will the temperature be like ?
Also, what should I know about manners ? I don't wish to accidentally offend someone through my own ignorance.
So anyway - here's the response:
Western women who work in Mumbai wear jackets and trousers, with shirts/blouses. Alternatively, skirts and blouses/jackets. It's no different from other places, but I'd generally advice modesty.
My list of no-no's includes deep cleavage, eye-popping tight shirts/straining buttons, halter necks, spaghetti straps etc. These will earn you a lot of stares, and make you feel uncomfortable, unless you're someone who doesn't mind being the centre of attraction.
If you are working with Indian companies in sectors such as manufacturing, engineering, then in general they are more conservative about clothes. Industries like financial services, advertising, BPO etc are more "Westernised".
In the evenings, I don't think there are strict rules, given the 5-star business hotels that you will probably wine and dine in. Little black dresses are ok, I guess. A smart idea is to have a stole or a shawl that can help you cover up if you feel like it.
In defence of Indian men, I have to say that some of them *have* learnt not to stare :)
One of the most amazing things for me about Indian women is how, unlike the rest of Asia, we haven't stopped wearing our traditional clothes to work. Be prepared for a lot of colourful sarees and salwar kameezes and fancy jewellery at work!
To tell the truth, it's one of the pleasures of my life, the ability to dress up for work and not worry about overdoing anything! When it comes to Western clothes, I wear simple shirts and trousers, which are suitable for this weather. Teamed with scarves and stoles, they are enough for me. I do wear a lot of linen shirts and jackets, because a) they're so stylish! and b) it's great for this weather. But you can pick whether you want a more formal look. Offices and hotels are air-conditioned, so you'll be fine. As a matter of fact, air-conditioning in Indian hotels is usually so cold that you'll never feel warm.