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A guide to surviving India

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

You might love India, you might hate it; but one thing’s for sure – you’ll never be unaffected by it. This country of a billion is more than just an assault on the senses, as travel writers like to call it. It’s vast, noisy, incredibly diverse, ostentatious, incredibly wealthy, dirt poor, simple, extravagant all at the same time.

India is not an easy country to do, if you’re visiting for the first time. In fact, you should probably “ease” into the country after visiting a couple of other Asian destinations first, to lessen the culture shock that assaults visitors as soon as they land.

You’ll never be able to say your trip to India was boring, but here are a few tips to keep in mind, so your holiday doesn’t get too exciting to handle!

  • Clothing

India is a hot country for the most part, except during the time from November to January when some parts of the country, particularly the North, experience chilly winters. Women should avoid long, flowing dresses that can drag on the ground – the roads leave a lot to be desired – and too skimpy attire. Indian women are modest in their clothing, and your Daisy Dukes and a Tee combo will elicit more stares than you need.

  • Packing

Bring most of your personal products, and other essentials. Most international brands are now available in India, but you might find your neighborhood supermarket doesn’t store the brand you use. Ditto for medication and first aid supplies. Pack plenty of insect repellent and sun block – most of the touristy areas are unbearably hot.

  • Food and Drink

Always drink only bottled water, and stock your bag with a few extra bottles when you’re out for the day sightseeing, or heading to a remote village. If you’re in a large group or intend to stay in a place for a while, buy larger 10,15, or 20 liter canisters, and refill your bottles as you go along.

Avoid fresh fruit juices from roadside eateries. In fact, avoid roadside stalls altogether. The taste may be divine, and the flavors mouthwatering, but unfortunately, the hygiene and sanitary conditions take a hit. Stick to high quality restaurants. I don’t mean you should eat only in five star joints, but reasonably high quality places that aren’t teeming with flies and have a clean look about the surroundings, should do fine.

Avoid salads, and fresh fruit that’s been pre cut. Avoid Western food in a restaurant that serves mainly Indian food – chances are the food might not be as fresh, because it’s not as popular with the locals. If you want a taste of home, head to a five star hotel or any one of the pizza and fast food joints cropping up all over the country.

  • Beggars

If there’s one thing that will jump out at you the moment you land in one of the metro cities, it’s the beggars. Most beggars here are professionals, and belong to a beggar mafia. Those horrible disfigurements and amputated limbs? Chances are high that those were actually done on purpose, so the beggar could garner more loose change. Ignore them, or handover a single rupee if you have to; not more. Be generous, and you risk having an entire gaggle of beggars surrounding you, clamoring for more!

Photo of Indian market originally posted by Meanest Indian

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer shabana nather

Shabana Nather is a freelance writer and closet travel blogger, who has a passion for all things Asian. Her favorite vacation spot is the sunny state of Goa, and the countries she would most like to visit are Egypt and Thailand. She currently lives and works in Mysore, India.

4 responses to “A guide to surviving India”

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  1. Krishna Rao says:
    September 12th, 2008 at 12:00

    Nice article- interesting reading. But you could correct the following spelling mistake :)

    “Pack plenty of *incest* repellent and sun block”

  2. Someone says:
    January 5th, 2009 at 09:13

    thanks for this information. It’s helpfull for me.

  3. Sujan P says:
    January 15th, 2009 at 08:17

    India. It is dirty everywhere, it stinks. People constantly spit beetlenut everywhere. The rickshaws and cars and bikes drive by their horns. They see foreigners as walking Rupees. It is also exciting, primal, kids running around …

  4. goacom says:
    January 18th, 2009 at 09:27

    Krishna: you are pretty inaccurate. incest is a world disease.Could be in your neighbourhood. So dont point fingers at India as an isolated case.

    The post is pretty accurate and although I am Indian and a Goan in particular it would be hard to deny some stinking facts like begging syndicates operating wihtout restraint.

    Goa which is also a part of India, is much different though. A visit to goa could change a few perceptions

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