This Guest Post by Final Transit compares the similarities between India and Mexico.
Did you ever visit a place that felt remarkably similar to some other place you had seen before?
It happened to me while I was traveling in Mexico last month.
India and Mexico, More Similar Than You’d Think
The more I traveled, the more familiar the place felt. Familiar to India, that is.
Now what could possibly be similar between Mexico and India – countries that are separated by oceans, and with different histories, races, and cultures?
Follow along as I share some clues based on what I encountered in Mexico, and then tell me what you think:
Clue 1: We are “brown”
The majority of Mexicans and Indians are born with a tan. SPF 15 will do nothing.
My Mexican Couchsurfing host said that he was never bothered by touts in India. And I was mistaken as a localin Mexico all the time too. What to do
Clue 2: We talk. A lot
When I asked for directions in Russia and if they didn’t know, I was simply told a “Nyet” and the person walked away. Not in Mexico!
Time and again, whenever I asked simple things like “Does the combi stop here?” the reply went on forever. People talked even if they didn’t know the answer.
Before I knew, I was talking about my age, telling them why Indians wear a mark on their forehead and getting invited to visit their homes. Ah, about that –
Clue 3: We invite people… and our families are huge
How do you define a family? Well, I once got invited (by someone I met at the bus stop) to a ‘family’ celebration.
I was pleasantly surprised to see aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, grandmothers, neighbors, old friends and even visiting couchsurfers included in “family.” Come, share, eat, enjoy, it’s for everyone! I was so touched by their hospitality!
Society of India and Mexico
Clue 1: Collectivist
I got into a very crowded chicken bus the other day and the driver was still forcing more people in.
Just like India, buses in Yucatan seem to have infinite capacity. A woman boarded with a big bag and a baby.
The baby was handed over to the grandma sitting next to me while the bag was thrust on my lap. Where else might this happen?
Clue 2: Time
I was going to a party once and I arrived promptly at 17:30 as per the invitation The host asked me, “What are you doing here so early?”
Other people came late… quite late. “It’s about hanging out and having a conversation,” my friend said wisely, “not about efficiency.”
Clue 3: Colours and festivals
Vibrant dresses, colourful food, dazzling festive decorations and crowded celebrations.
I think that the best time to indulge oneself socially is during festivals. More the merrier, come join the celebration! I
ended up participating in a fiesta that ended with tons of street food.
History of India and Mexico
Clue 1: Architectural wonders
If you have visited the Chichen Itzas of Mexico, or the Taj Mahals of India, you know what I am talking about.
The monuments and temples are huge, often overwhelming, and full of intricate details.
And oh, several of these were constructed roughly one or two thousand years ago.
Clue 2: European colonies
India was to the British what Mexico was to the Spanish. I won’t say anything more!
Streets of India and Mexico
Clue 1: Noisy and crowded
I know someone who visited India and wore earplugs all their time in Delhi.
Yes, our cities are a sea of humanity: noisy, crowded and littered. Despite how chaotic it looks, there is an order and it is incomprehensible how the cities function at five times their design capacity (what’s that?)
While I was disappointed that Mexican drivers don’t honk as passionately, their chaotic driving (skills) did make up for the inadequate honking. 😀
Clue 2: Stray animals
I must say that Mexico has a lot of catching up to do is much better in this regard. I could only spot stray dogs and cats. Where did the cows go? Ah, in the burritos perhaps… That brings us to the final topic.
Food of India and Mexico
Clue 1: Rotis, Tortillas, Parathas and Gorditas
These are essentially the same, except that wheat is not as popular in Mexico and corn is reserved for roasting in India.
The parathas get stuffed with vegetarian fare while the gorditas often get stuffed with meat.
The best thing about the food? You can eat on the street, with your hands, fresh off the cooking pan (and probably on the same plates that was used by five previous people.)
Clue 2: Hot and spicy
Being a self-proclaimed connoisseur of chilies, I must point out that Mexican chilies are not the same as Indian ones.
Regardless, fact remains that food is incomplete without an adequate dressing of chili pepper sauce of some kind.
The madness goes to the next level – we eat our fruit with ‘chili de fruta’ (chili mix/masala to season the fruit). Imagine my shock when I was served a pear as dessert in Toronto!
Now tell me, after reading this, do you agree with what I had said at the beginning? Did you have a similar experience elsewhere?
PS: This article is written in a lighter vein. While I have lived in India for 25 years, I have barely spent a month in Mexico.
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63 thoughts on “India and Mexico, More Similar Than You’d Think”
Both India and Mexico are ruled by the sign of Capricorn. A sign of ancient civilizations and strong family and religious traditions. A sign that seems to thrive in and overcome adversity.
That’s an interesting comparison. I feel the same way about Mexico and the Philippines (actually Manila and Mexico City in particular). It is amazing how many similarities there are. As far as India goes, I have yet to visit a country, Mexico included, that is at India’s level of filth and unruliness. I’ll take a trip to Mexico over India any day of the week.
Having said that, I don’t mean we are similar in all grounds. I cannot speak for Mexico but India is dustier, chaotic cities with garbage all over the place.
In the index of cleanliness, we fail. We fail big time. But wait, we are improving pls be patient with us and give your best wishes.
Only someone who does not truly know Mexico is going to say that India and Mexico are similar, India is one of the most polluted countries in the world, in Mexico some communities make use of organic and sustainable materials, in Mexico there is ecotourism, in India it only matters the money. Mexico is much less classist than India, please stop matching different cultures, respect please.
Have you been to India, if yes how long have you stayed. Author has stayed in both the places and drew the lines that he felt similar.
I personally feel the similarity between two cultures as I have an important person in my life who is Mexican.
I am from Mexico City. I also lived in the northern part of Mexico for a decade and visited the southern states often. I moved to the USA in my late thirties, 15 years ago, and here I discovered Indian food, traditions, diversity, etc. My closest friends are from India, and we keep finding similarities. That amazes us. Now they make Mexican food often, and my family and I cook Indian food almost every day. We would love to visit India! I agree with this article.
Being brown doesn’t make two cultures similar. Ethiopians are brown to dark skinned. Let’s see whether Indians are ready to compare with ethiopians, since the region is alot closer to India.
Both are mix of people from caucasus mountains and natives… which goes deep in their physical traits and food habits.
When I say India, it’s north and central parts of India.
Mexico and India have the best cultures as well as European countries like France & Italy. Wonderful post, definitely quite similar.
Reading the post, I think I am now ready to visit Mexico. Atleast I won’t feel touristy and able to enjoy!
Very interesting comments by all. Im born in india and live in US. I HAVE BEEN to Mexico several times bz border is only 1.5 hrs from me. I see many similarities between two cultures as well as history especially mayan. Mayans are also mentioned in indian history. In late 2017 i saw an article where they found SHIVA temple in mexico. If u look back in hindu & maya civilization, both r very similar practices. Going to mexico does remind me growing up in india. Even today, mexican & indian candies taste the same. I’m planning to retire in mexico next month. My goal is to help the poor people and young generations to develop their skill levels. To change/improve someone’s life. I hope in my journey to mexico. I find people who could use my help to improve for their personal lifes, improve their families and help the country. 90% of my friends in US are mexicans. I love both cultures and value them.
Hey, I am Mexican. I don’t like how people are saying Mexico is similar to India. Maybe both countries are hot. That’s only similarity. I can name a dozen countries that grow mangoes. These countries are thousands of miles apart. PleAase stop this. The only way possible for any similarity is that Arab blood is in Latin America. That’s the only way possible.
Hi Rios, thanks for sharing. I think that the article is a love letter to both. It was a commentary by Priyank who grew up in India and then visited Mexico. These are the similarities he saw in the two countries and it makes me love them both even more.
hey! have you read the book “India Becoming” by Akash Kapur? I am Mexican and sadly, never been to India, but when I read it I was fascinated by how similar the challenges of urbanization are for both countries. I guess it’s something many countries bouncing between traditions and modernization are facing these days. I loved your post and how it reminded me how people from across the globe might have more in common than they imagine.
I haven’t read it, but I will definitely check it out. Thanks!
I agree completely, being Indian in Mexico is like being back home in India. Everything is familiar, sometimes the very same like the vendors in the mercado :). I am always happy when I go there, to me it’s like going home to India, only it’s much closer :). Mexicans and Indians share a very similar culture and everything you mention is so true. Viva la Mexico y la India.
I enjoyed reading your post. I am Mexican American. But I have always been fascinated with India.
I am originally from India and have travelled to Mexico several dozen times and have spent a long time there. I speak Spanish as well and can understand Mexican culture quite well being married to a lovely Mexican girl. I can attest that the countries, culture, colours and food are quite similar from a cursory glance. When you dig deeper, there are differences but still, in many ways, there are a lot of similarities. For instance, houses are built of brick and concrete, some neighbourhoods look the same, bright colours are used, people are more family oriented and very religious and so on. Mexico is a little more developed than India but in larger cities like New Delhi vs. Mexico City, you can find many similarities. People are warm, friendly and hospitable on the whole in both countries as well.
My mexican wife’s best friend is Fijian-Indian – she says that the cultural similarities are striking!
You forgot to mention the similarities in our flags as well 🙂
Probabely both countries are at the same latititudes with similar weather.Both countries have corruption.
I believe that your impression of both countries is a bit too narrow. You could also compare Thailand with Brazil of Belize with South Africa and decide that they are very similar – and yet you would be missing important cultural differences. I can't think of a country that does not have colorful festivals or noisy streets, and the fact that Mexican and Indian people are both "tanned" does not really mean much. But this is just my two cents.
AHAHAHAHAHA very liee! mexico is very diferent to india, please welcome all to mexico and see 🙂 viva mexico!
@Ceaser:Dude,India has multiple religion eg Hinduism(80cent),muslims,christians,sikh(guys with turbans on head),jainism,Buddhism and one more think-Muslims are not terrorist,terrorists are muslims
This article is interesting but not what I want to know.
And you forgot to mention the slums.
I’m from Mexico and my boyfriend is Indian, we both met in California and we both immigrated when we were 12 yrs old we met in high school and now 5 yrs later we haven’t have the $$ or chance to visit each other country 🙁 but we always shared our stories growing up in our home country, our food and our culture and we camero the conclusion that our cultures are very very similars and we love it, although he is Hindu and I’m catholic we both pray in a very similar way.
Thanks for sharing Erika. That is very cool to hear it from a couple from both India and Mexico. You can attest that the countries and cultures are very similar indeed. Hopefully you will have the money soon to travel to your home countries. it will happen, travel can be surprisingly affordable especially if you have family to visit there.
I have always been intrigued by the similarities of culture, habits, and food of the two counties. Several numerals also have Sanskrit roots. Although we are not taught in our history classes, mexico was once inhabited by East Indians and ruled by Iyer King/s in BCs (~2000-3000 BC). There was also infusion of Naga people (Nagaland) from India, both in Mexico and Peru.
Columbus did not discover New World, East Indians had been inhabiting it for long time. Most cultural and other changes happened after the invasion by Spaniards. I guess all we need is to get a concrete proof by comparing the DNA of the two populations.
“Hinduism in Space Age” provides a historical perspective on this topic”. I have glanced through this book but have not read it. A friend of mine in India recently recommended it when I brought up the topic of similarities of East Indians and Mexicans.
Hello, I’m a little late but feel moved to reply to this post.
The first time I had Indian food it quickly became one of my favorites becuase it reminded me so much of Mexican. I was curious as to why this was, I googled and came across this site which Links Mexican cuisine to Indian!
That is amazing! Thanks for stopping by and I am glad that we could show that other people feel the same way about Mexican and Indian food.
I haven’t been to Mexico but seeing your post, puts it on my bucket list..
Thanks for sharing!
NIce to know that the Mexicans also provide family value like Indians.
OMG!!! you are totally right!! I’m from Mexico (I live in Mexico City) and I visited India 3 weeks ago and everything you describe is true!! Its amazing how 2 different cultures can be so similar in many ways!! 😀
It is amazing isn’t is Sara. After reading the post we noticed it too. We didn’t really realize how similar they were even though we had been to both places, but after the similarities were pointed out to us we had the same reaction as you!
I’ve never been to Mexico. But reading your post and learning about the similarities of India and Mexico, I’d like to visit Mexico some time. I think things are little different in southern part of India. Have you ever visited southern part?
Hey Lakshmi. We felt the same way. We had been to both as well, but didnt’ pick up on the similarities until Priyank’s post. We’ve been to the southern part of both Mexico and India. Love them both!
There are definitely some physical similarities between Mexicans and Indians. One of my friends was born in Bangalore, and people in Texas address him in Spanish all the time. It probably helps that he has a moustache, and likes to wear jeans and boots. 🙂
And your food posts always make me hungry….:)
Too late for me to walkabout in other countries. But your posts and photos are so alive and fascinating that you give me the feeling I was walking next to you, wherever you went. I’m so grateful! Thanks, Priyank!
I really liked this! I haven’t been to India, but I’ve been to Mexico and your observations were spot-on, Priyank. Love the photos, too!
We’ve been to both India and Mexico and after reading Priyank’s article we could totally see the similarities. It is such an excellent idea for a post, I never would have thought of comparing the two.
Hi Megan, It was my first time to Mexico and I was very surprised with the similarities in almost all walks of life. Its funny eh!
Dave and Deb: And now I am a making a list of dissimilarities, but those are not as interesting. 🙂
The moment I stepped in Mexico (starting from the immigration desk at the airport), it felt quite similar to India. Strange, isn’t it!?
Wow, a very interesting comparison that I would have never thought of, but I would say now that I definitely see the similarities! 2 countries that I absolutely adore!!!
This is hysterical. I spent almost my entire time walking around Italy thinking the same thing! I thought about putting a game up on the site called “Italy or Mexico?” I never thought they would be so similar but from the bright blue skies to the terracotta roofs and the roadside stands selling ceramics they were really similar! I felt at home instantly in Italy because of all the time in spent in Mexico. Now I know why I want to go to India so badly – it must be similar to Italy it some strange way!
Who knew that Italy could also join the ‘Mexindia’ alliance? haha! You should certainly write a post about it.
I have not been to maxico but what i saw in texas, i was convinced that original maxicans must have been in some way connected to india. hence this search for similarities. Priyank forgot one more similarity. both countries grow. mangoes.
KPVS, that’s cool. I didn’t know that both countries grew mangos. yet another thing to add to the list. Cheers.
This is great! I’ve visited both countries (though neither as extensively as I’d like) and can definitely see a number of your comparisons. And what you mentioned about the honking in Delhi cracked me up – I just couldn’t believe how horn-happy the drivers are there! Crossing the street was like playing a constant game of chicken (where I always lost), but it was such a unique experience.
Yeah I know honking is quite annoying… Once you live there for a while, it becomes a part of life. Infact after a while you can tell what kind of vehicle is approaching just by its horn. 😀
Ha, that’s a funny point, I never knew that you could tell the type of vehicle by it’s horn.
I enjoyed the post so much! I am going to Mexico now for at least 3 months, cannot wait now when reading this.
Thank you Priyank for such a fun and interesting post. We really enjoyed reading it and couldn’t wait to share it with all our readers. I am glad that people have enjoyed it as much as we have.
Hello CSFT have a fun time in Mexico! The trick is to get out of the tourist circuit.
Dave and Deb, its my pleasure to write here. (I was slightly worried that the post would offend someone, lol) 😀
This is a great post…fascinating! I’ve never been to India, but I’d definitely visited Mexico several times. Now I know what to expect! Thanks for this truly interesting comparison.
Thanks Lisa! You’ll get plenty of ‘chickybus’ material from India as well. 🙂
I’m intrigued by both countries. While I’ve been to Mexico I have yet to visit India. Both countries bare some resemblance in their arts to Morocoo. Pretty photos!
Hi Nisrine! Resemblance to Moroccan art? Now that’s something I am intrigued about. If you have some links handy, do share them with us and thanks for the comment!
Priyank, I love Mexico and you’ve convinced me that I have all the more reason to go to India – soon!
Ah, thanks Ayngelina, and I think you will like traveling in India too!
That is awesome Ayngelina. We have been enjoying all your posts from Central and South America and will definitely look forward to your travels in Asia whenever they may be:)
I found your research quite interesting.
Geographically, there seem to be several similarities.
The central part of Mexico is a plateau, flanked on the east and west by the Sierra Madre Oriental and Occidental ranges. Peninsular India is dominated by the Deccan plateau, flanked by the Eastern and Western Ghats. Northwestern Mexico is notably arid, (e.g. the Sonora region) . In Northwestern India, Rajasthan is home to the Thar desert.
Both countries straddle the Tropic of Cancer.
Coastal Eastern India often suffers from severe tropical cyclones. Likewise, the eastern coast of Mexico suffers from tropical hurricanes.
It was interesting to see that there are so many socio-demographic similarities too.