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Do's and Dont's in India

INDIA | Saturday, 13 August 2011 | Views [5192] | Comments [1]

Everytime my friend from Germany gets an invitation from me to visit India, she freaks out. In spite of all the news of rock/ pop stars going for India-themed weddings and getting themselves inked in Sanskrit quotes, I think the general traveler is pretty scared of the country. Though I would like to say its all misplaced, I will just try to be honest.

The first thing you should remember is you will get stared at. If you are a girl. Or a boy. As long as you look slightly different from us Indians, we will all be curious.

Basically that means, don't wear clothes which can attract even more attention. Wearing shorts and a tank top might be okay in the city, but a strict no-no in the towns and villages. Men can wear almost anything though.

Also don't accept food from people in the railway station or on the road, unless you think he is trustworthy. It is shameful to admit this, but cases have been reported when travelers have been duped and robbed. Though this is not a travelers only concern. My parents would try to pack a whole week's grocery every time I travelled someplace, would call up every five hours to check on me and basically refused to let me be.

However, do remember that most people are just curious. That might be because they ave never travelled to your country, or maybe because they they have never had guests from your country either. So.. smile and gently start a conversation. Nine out of ten times you will come across a  beautiful family willing to share the history and culture of our country over a cup of 'cutting chai' (that is the special milk tea you get in Mumbai).

Do take pictures, of things, people, architecture - whenever allowed. You never know, in our bid to develop the country, half of the sights and scenes might not be there in the next twenty years. You may also get kids and elders willing to pose for you. Maybe at times, people will ask you to pose so that they can take a picture with you. Again, that trusted intuition will come in handy.

Do try the cuisine. Remember, the country has over 28 states, and therefore over 28 totally different kinds of cuisine. Most will be spicy, some on the hotter side. Take your pick, go slow and always insist on bottled water. A small digestive medicine might be a good addition to your handbag at this point of time.

Once you are in India, you will be surrounded by loud, colourful things. A larger than life idol of Goddess Durga, or a day when everyone is throwing colours at each other - even at strangers, a celebration of Diwali and the new year which it signifies or the sad days of Ramazan - each festival is a community affair in the country. Be ready to be a part of it. If you show interest people will be more than happy to let you have the front seat, to light the first lamp during Diwali or do an impromptu jig for you during Navratri. They will tell you about the celebrations - the reasons, the practices and the food. They will ask you to come home and be a part of their family celebration. Typical to the Indian mindset - the more the merrier - follows here!

However, remember when you are in a group, or in public, some topics are almost taboo, or at least, sensitive. Religion being one of them. After the partition of 1947 when Pakistan, India and Bangladesh split up into 3 different countries - Hindu-Muslim relationship soured. Then came the Sikh riots of 1984 and the recent killings of catholics in Kerala. We are all a very peaceful country, but like the current situation in London must have made you understand, people take heart to things you may never expect. It is just better to stear clear of these things. If you have doubts or questions, ask a friend. Or at least a person who seems to be tolerant.

Along with all that, remember to learn three-four useful words in Hindi and speak a bit slowly in English. The accents would be difficult for many people to understand. There should be helpful people every where. Don't hesitate to ask for help. Mix with the people, do what they are doing and you'd be set for a fun holiday in my country.

Tags: #blogyourbackyard, crowds, festivals, home, india, mumbai, sanskrit, stare, weddings



Hi sparklenshines,

Congratulations! This ‘Blog your Backyard’ submission has been chosen as one of the 20 winners of an Urban Adventures voucher. Please email Alicia@worldnomads.com to find out how to redeem your experience.

Thanks for being part of our ‘Blog your Backyard’ project and sharing your local knowledge with our community!


  travel-competitions Sep 14, 2011 9:46 AM

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