I was reading a magazine earlier (the lovely Motoring and Leisure) and came across an article by Sam Manicom who undertakes motorcycle treks. His recent article on India gave an enlightening look into direction finding in Asia.
"Asking directions in India is nearly always an adventure... I'd learnt that when saying 'is this the way to...?' whilst pointing in the direction I thought was correct, I'd always get an 'Oh yes Sah, this is very much being the right direction for you Sah'. It almost almost never was the right way.
"It wasn't that the people were being deliberately difficult, quite the opposite. They were being too helpful, and saving face. They wanted to help so much, that when they didn't know the right direction, they would point you somewhere that might possibily be correct, just in case...
"It was far better to ask, 'which is the way to...?' whilst keeping my hands down by my sides. Even when asking for directions in the correct way, I would still have to ask at least five very different people, and then take the route that most people said. Frequently they'd be right. But the best option of all was to go into a pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for directions... Not one time did I have a wrong set of directions from a pharmacist."
Move over Ordnance Survey - let's use Boots the Chemist from now on