India is one of those countries that most tourists want to visit at one point or another. This is because of its rich history, warm climate and friendly people (not to mention the spiritual values). Yet before one undertakes the trip, one must acquaint oneself with certain basic need-to-knows. Luckily, we are here to talk about the six most important things to keep an eye out for there.
This is one of those things that have already become a custom in certain countries like India, Turkey and the UAE. Quite often, when you wish to purchase something in India, shopkeepers or stallkeepers will ask for prices through the roof. This is simply because they think that foreigners are oblivious to how things go in their country. Prove them wrong and be intimidated not to argue a bit. You will often see these people enjoying the argument for it has already become a tradition to haggle over items as simple as a linen cloth. Stand your ground and you will see prices dropping drastically. Also, do not forget to maintain a respectful attitude – stallkeepers enjoy people who know how to conduct a good bargain. Oh, and if they wave you off after the purchase, know that that is only a sign of unexpected appreciation for your skills (wink).
2. Public transport:
If you think Tokyo’s overpopulation is crazy, wait ‘till you set eyes upon the buses and trains of India. We all know how sardines are placed in cans – well, that is how you’ll likely stand in their public transport vehicles… if you are lucky. If you happen to pull the short straw, you might see your bus filled to the last nanometre. In this latter case, you will often see people running after the trains or the buses and hopping on whichever parts they can latch on to. Other people from the aboard will reach out to help them every n ow and then and this will bring a warm sensation of camaraderie to your heart. We recommend that you avoid public transport as much as you can and only hop on to these moving sardine-cans if you have no other choice.
This is a vital one: do NOT consume anything from roadside stalls for they do not follow the standards of any basic health code. Most diseases there come from contaminated food or water. In fact, the water there is so dangerous that we highly discourage you from drinking tapwater. Also, go as far as avoiding ice – we know that this might be inconvenient in such a hot place but believe us, it’s better safe than sorry in India. Eat nothing that is not boiled or cooked and you should be fine. Oh, and look for bottled water – it might be a little bit more expensive but it is worth it.
Whenever you visit a country that has a totally different culture than yours, expect it to reach into the dressing code as well. In India, it is recommended that you dress humbly (or conservatively) for thigh-shorts and cleavages are heavily frowned upon. Regular T-shirts are acceptable and, if you can, bring some generic pants with you as well. Again, the inconvenience of the heat may be a problem for some of you, but it is better than being eyed all the time. Your attitude should be close to that when you visit Muslim countries: shoes are taken off in other people’s homes and in temples. These are the basics but if you want to know more (such as dressing codes for specific areas), we recommend that you do some further research prior to travelling.
Yes, unfortunately begging is a problem in India, especially in large metropolises like Delhi or Mumbai. The thing is, the nicer you are, the more you are going to be exploited. The disheartening thing is that most of the beggars are children. They will often call you “didi” or “bhai” (miss, mister – or aunty, uncle) and then extend their hands. These words reflect another important thing about India: that they respect their elders tremendously (keep that in mind when addressing one). The begging problem, however, cannot be fixed by a single person – all you can do is do the best you can for the ones around you. The sad thing is that even though you might help 10 such children, 20 more will flock to you because word travels fast. Be nice but be smart as well.
Although many places in India accept credit cards, we recommend that you do not forget to bring some cash as well. Numerous establishments are not equipped with credit card machines and you will find yourself in a sticky situation. Go old-school and prepare yourself with a few thousand Rupees (the local currency).
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in India and how have they affected you? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and do not forget to check back for some interesting updates! Safe travels!