First time in India? Travel tips from bloggers
" I ended up in India because I think India is the origin of everything, it's the starting point of everything. India is still a country where the divine is in the everyday life of people, in gestures ". Tiziano Terzani, a great chronicler and writer who, like few others, has known how to "narrate and make us love the East and India", unveiling its lesser-known sides and bringing his spirituality closer to the West.
And India is truly a marvelous country, a magical universe of people and landscapes, but with complex interweaving that can sometimes intimidate and curb the western traveler. If you are planning to visit India (and we recommend it to you!), we have prepared for you a "survival manual" with travel advice suggested by some bloggers who have fallen in love with India and tell it daily from their blog pages.
Enjoy your reading!
- Pay attention to the tuk tuk : they take you where they want! If you are looking for a restaurant the driver of the vehicle will probably tell you that it is closed or that it has burnt, and at that point it will offer to help you and take you to a place where he takes the commission. Reiterate clearly where you want to go and do not be intimidated.
- Establish always clearly the price of a transport, even of the riksciò . Often the drivers accept a price but at the destination they ask for another one.
- The most avid drivers are out of airports and stations: take advantage of the multitude to negotiate and choose the service more economic.
- If you rent a car pay attention to the contractual form. day-to-day payment , not the one per km, is more appropriate. If you have a driver, make sure he is not drunk (if he is, stop him)!
" Always clearly establish the price of a transport, even the riksciò. Often the drivers accept a price but at the destination they ask for another one. "
Sonia, NamasteOltre blogger
- Take at least one trip on a train : trains are the places where people talk, ask indiscreet questions, where great friendships are created. The country is full of trains that go everywhere and some of the long-distance ones require up to 3-4 days of travel. If you do not have enough time, it is still worthwhile to get to know India traveling with a small train trip, especially in second-class carriages.
- book a train remember, absolutely, that you can do it yourself by going to the station or, more comfortably, on the internet. Beware of local agencies because they increase the ticket price up to 60% more.It is also advisable to have a cap, because it protects against any kind of animals and wind (usually trains do not have windows).
- In some local lines there are two types stop: the stop where it is easy to get on and off and the ' slow stop '. In this case the train does not stop, but slows down; people who have to go down do it and those who have to go do it with the train in slight movement. You will have to prove your agility!
- By train avoid talking all the time . They will do it, if you travel with Indians!
- When you arrive at the station make sure your name is written on a sheet of paper hanging on a board or on the departing train ( eye because it could often be crippled or otherwise badly written!).
- It is very important to always check the train station of a train, because the big cities have more possibilities.
- The metro is efficient , fast and safe, especially in Delhi. By metro, Mumbai or other cities, you can have different compartments by gender, so watch out for couples because they travel separate.
- The beautiful of India is not (only) in things to see, but in the people to know . Talk to the Indians even if you do not know the language (often, especially in the villages, English is not known). It seems incredible, but it is possible to communicate without speaking the same language!
- The drooping of the head of the Indians does not mean negation but affirmation (but also perhaps, who knows, I do not know ...). Indians tend, by culture, to avoid denying a possibility. Attention therefore to the "no problem Sir" or to the "possible Sir". Sometimes they lie to not disappoint you!
- Let yourself be involved by the people you meet during the trip : Indians are often curious and try to establish contact with foreigners, even by inviting them at home, at parties and weddings. Obviously if you are a woman alone in India it takes a bit of caution before accepting invitations from men, but in general, these invitations result in visits to homes and knowledge of families. This happens above all with people of simple origins and is a way to see a part of India that otherwise will remain unknown to you.
- If you are invited to a friend's house, remember to take off your shoes before entering. In private homes (but also in some offices) you never enter with dusty shoes, it is good education to leave them out.
- Do not spare yourself to greet people > strong> that you meet during your trip: a namaste ' smile allows you to approach people and maybe learn more about the culture and the place where you are.
- It is not Indian custom to thank . This is not rudeness but a karmic fallout.
"Let the people you meet during the trip get involved: Indians are often curious and try to establish contact with foreigners, even by inviting them at home, at parties and weddings."
Sunil, Awaragi blogger
- The Indians are curious .They will ask you many questions: be kind and answer them in the most eloquent way possible; they will be very happy with it. There are many topics of conversation that you can face, but remember that many Indians are sensitive about the subject Pakistan ... avoid talking about it.
- Do not take pictures to women who wash themselves at the sources, to the people who make their needs on the street or to relatives of the dead during a cremation.
- Avoid giving money to children on the street , because they are often inside a racket and the money will end up to their exploiters. If they are worth it, buy it rather than eat or dress.
- Attention also to mothers with sleeping baby and empty bottle . They will not ask for money but milk powder for the little one; often agree with the becnevali , the seller, who will drag you, to make you pay for the box 10 times more than the actual amount! The two will then divide the swag when you turn the corner (even if the shopkeeper earns more and more), while the child, who you see always dormant or dazed, is unfortunately often drugged.
- The Indians mock you if you try to speak their language : they do it with everyone, even with those who really speak it. They are pranksters! Remember, however, that in India 22 languages are spoken and Hindi is just one of many, the second official, but not the most widespread. and then many people speak English, probably even better than you.
- Many Indians, especially in Punjab or in the surrounding areas, will ask you to take pictures with you . It is custom became popular in recent years: they feel that you have something in common with the foreign travelers because of wealth or the wealth model to tend. Do not disappoint them and do not be surprised if you meet them again and they will want to show you the printed photo!
- Go see a Bollywood movie during your visit: India is full of shopping malls with multiplex cinemas. Look for maybe one of great success (ask the Indians that you will know during the trip). Seeing a film surrounded by enthusiastic spectators who sing together or sometimes dance, is a unique experience! Remember not to re-tweak Bollywood: for the Indians it's like a religion!
- many Indians you will be considered out of chaste . Do not be offended, the caste is a complex system.
- Do not dress up as Indians: no sari or shalwar kameez for women and no duds or longhi or kurta for men; you would be ridiculous and - in some areas - someone might even be offended. Dress yourselves as westerners and with moderation.
- Before leaving read something about Hinduism, will help you to understand many things of India even apparently not related to religion.
- Visit the Hindu temples , even those that may seem artistically insignificant, and stay there for a long time. Do not limit yourself to 'visiting' the temple and its monuments, but live it. Sit on the ground and watch, listen, smell, touch ... Normally you will not be allowed to enter the "garbhagriha" (the womb chamber containing the image of the main deity of the temple), but what happens in the temple will be more than enough.
- Always take off your shoes to enter a temple.Once inside, you can sing or dance with the Indians.
- Attention to the puja (the act of ritual offering) in the temples; the real pujari is never looking for business with Westerners, because it already has its work to do. So be wary of those who offer you a tour of a temple with an attached puja in an improbable Sanskrit, because they are fake pujari that often use brunino little boys, very picturesque and kind to Westerners, which will enchant you in 3 minutes. In the end, however, the cost of your "fake puja" will be very high.
- Do not consider yourself superior to an Indian as Christians or belonging to another religion different from theirs. There is no sense of higher faith in the Hindu conception, and the concept of "non-salvation" due to the fact of following a different religion for them is absurd. They will ask you many questions about your religion; remember that generally Hindus have a deep respect for your God .
- There are many differences between Hindu and Muslim Indians, you will notice them in no time .
- Not never ridicule a sikkh for his turban and do not ask how his hair is under
- You can (and I highly recommend it, if you are in the area at the right time !) participate in some parties like holi and diwali .
- Do not make fun of tantrism or kamasutra. These are complex doctrines that should not be generalized.
- Do not assume (almost) no price : even the prices of luxury hotels are negotiable and the fact that you do it gives the impression that you do not waste money. They will take it into consideration when they offer you other services .
- In beautiful fabric stores in India, expect a price increase of 7-8 times the real price . The bargaining must be fierce! In reality, doing this operation the Indians have fun (even if less than the Tibetans) and still be assured that they will always earn us!
- When you contract on the street or buy goods, you can pretend to go away . Usually you are called and you get the desired price.
"When shopping or using services, remember to respect their poverty, which Gandhi considered the greatest form of violence."
Elisa, blogger of Italianmasala
- If you take someone shopping with a friend, know that he has the right to have from the shopkeeper a percentage on what you buy.
- Keep in mind that in India there are 400 million people living on less than $ 1 a day (and another 500 million living on less than $ 2 a day); when you shop or use services, remember to respect their poverty, which Gandhi considered the greatest form of violence.
- Visit the markets , especially those not intended for tourists but for Indians.Start perhaps with lighter dishes and then gradually try more spicy.
- Hygiene in India is a problem, put your heart in peace: vegetables could be have been prepared with dirty hands and the glasses of the tea have been washed in old water. Sooner or later, during your trip, you may have belly problems, but fortunately the medicines for these disorders are easily found at local pharmacies.
"All foods must be 'well done', meaning 'well cooked' stubborn to eat meat in a country that for 70/80% is vegetarian. "
Domenico, Ekamsatindia blogger
- There may be circumstances in which some Indians will not want to eat near you. Respect their customs, they are Orthodox Hindus.
- In restaurants always ask for the level of spices you want , especially in the south or in Rajastan.
- India is a wonderful country, but especially if you do not attend tourist facilities it is essential to take precautions, especially in the diet. Usual rules: no water if not packaged, no vegetables or fruit if not 'peeled'. All foods must be 'well done', ie 'well cooked' especially if you insist on eating meat in a country that for 70/80% is vegetarian. Bananas are a great resource , they are very good, of many types (there are also red ones!) and they are peeled without a knife.
- It is good that women avoid tank tops , sleeveless sweaters, dresses that are too low-cut or short . Indians do not like it. However, it depends very much on the area: the phenomenon is more pronounced in the south. Always remember that it is just to respect the modesty of the culture in which you are .
- Never kiss a woman in public to greet her , just like in Italy. Do not hug her and avoid shaking her hand. It will very well join the palms of the hands in front of you with a namaste .
- Indian men tend to have a low opinion of Western women . Often they insult you or they tell you filth with a beautiful smile printed; this problem is unfortunately resolvable only if you know the language. If a man looks at you insistently, lower your gaze or let a traveler who is with you intervene. However, the intense gaze postponed is usually sufficient to interrupt the phenomenon.
- In crowded areas like the metro attention to palpatine .
"If a man look at you insistently look down or let a traveler who is with you intervene. "
Sonia, NamasteOltre blogger
We present Sonia, Elisa, Sunil and Domenico, the 4 bloggers lovers of India who have sent us their valuable advice and thanks to which this mini-guide was born.Passionate about literature, cinema, photography, art and history, try to express these interests through his website www.kalpana.it and various blogs, including Awaragi.
Elisa Chiodarelli has a degree in Sanskrit and has been involved in Indian culture for many years. In 2012 he presented at the Ferrara International Festival the video reportage Mother India , on the self-managed syndicate of self-managed women Sewa, an internationally recognized organization that works for the recognition of the rights and autonomy of Indian women . He works daily with schools and libraries, proposing to his students his intercultural workshops. She is the author of the Italianmasala blog.
Domenico Santi fell in love with India in 1984 and since then has become his great passion. He especially loves Indian philosophy and his invitation to look inside for us the meaning of life. When he can, he goes to India, where he has many friends. In his blog, Ekamsatindia, he tries to collect thoughts, reflections, photos, stories and Indian events.
What is your relationship with India? Have you been there or would you like to visit it? Raccontatecelo!