The infectious Indian head wobble

Yes, the Indian head wobble, I caught it whilst on holiday and I just cant shift it!

I’ve always been a fan of it, there’s a lot of Indian guys in finance in my workplace and you could often catch me watching them intently across the dining room at lunch watching for that little wobble, it brings me joy- I know, it’s silly, but i guess it reminds me of Babu as well. It’s just unique.

So what does it mean?

Well . . Up until very recently I though it was a way of indicating indifference, a way of acknowledging and responding to something without actually committing to an yes or a no. But, thanks to this article from Sharell I now know better!

It means yes, it means I’m listening, it means I agree, it means all sorts!

But my general point is that once you see it, it’ll get you! And it’s got me! I LOVE IT!


10 responses to “The infectious Indian head wobble

  • Anil

    What looks like a wobble is actually a subtle disagreement.

    It means I’m listening/understand but I don’t like it.

    It is considered rude to verbally point out the dislike. So it is shown non-verbally BUT it is never made clear. Sort of like, “what are you gonna do?”


    Person 1: Yesterday, arun kept persuading me and my wife for our confirmation to attend his daughters birthday. There was no way we could attend so we lied by telling him that we would attend. He’s going to be very angry when he finds out that we didn’t show up so I have to find a way to make amends.

    Person 2: *Doing head wobble*

    The wobble is a mystery.

    • ria

      Ah, so I was kind of right in the first place, that is the way I generally use it, usually accompanied with a “hmmm” sort of noise! I like the non-committal nature of it – avoids potential confrontation which Is definitely favourable!

      Thanks Anil!

  • AG

    Oh i Totally disagree. The head wobble is actually a ‘yes’. That is how I usually use it. Alternatively it has also been used as an ‘ i dont know’

    • ria

      Wow, so it really depends who you are as to what it means I guess. Well, I don’t really care, a little head wobble brightens my day anyhow!

      • AG

        I’m glad it does. My British friend did not appreciate it. She would always tease me and ask me, ” Is that a ‘yes’ or a ‘no'” or would say “there you go with the Indian yes/no” while she would awkwardly imitate me.
        Anyway, I have been going through your blog. I wish you good luck with Mr Babu and hope you enjoy your time in India whenever you decide to visit.
        BTW you have an Indian name Ria 😀

        • ria

          Oh, well she is lucky to have the pleasure you should tell her! when I am away from Babu and see that it always makes me feel happy as it reminds me of him!

          Thanks for reading, it’s a shame I don’t get to write as much as I’d like to.

          And yes! Babu but insists on saying it with a rolled tongue rather than my british ruh at the beginning – apparently I am “Indian now” – I think I have a looong way to go still!

          रिया (I think thats right?)

  • AG

    Yeah Riya thats absolutely right 🙂
    haha i love teasing the Brits back about their accents and poshness if that is even a word.
    “Cadbury!, Cadbury Old Chap! Get me some tea and scones”
    “Tally Ho”
    “Jolly Good Show”
    i love it 😀
    And do write as much as you can. I am sure you are busy when i read blogs such as yours makes me want to write too 😀

    • ria

      Lol, I suppose you can’t help but sound posh when saying cadbury! You’de laugh at me if you heard me speak though, half the time I’m well spoken the other half I talk like a farmer, I guess that’s a throwback from me living near the countryside but working in Marketing!

      Never said tally ho or jolly good show though, VERY stereotypical, I do however thing a good British word is Bollocks, and generally anyone sounds posh saying that! I know it’s swearing but it’s one of my favourite words!

  • Tim Rider


    I agree

    Im off Indian origin, born and raised down under…

    I grew up watching my grandparents who had a slight head wobble, and as a kid I was really self conscious of it

    But now it just appears when I am talking to fellow Indians/Indian origin people

    It is misunderstood by westerners, it is an indication of interest and indian courtesy

    • ria

      “it appears”? So am I right in saying it can almost become an involuntary action?

      I have noticed that Babu only uses it with me on the occasion he might be trying to avoid answering a question. But when talking to his colleagues in Hindi it’s wobbling away like anything!

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