THINGS TO THINK ABOUT BEFORE YOUR INDIA TRIP
Because you should go to India, but you should know about it first.
- •There are a TON of peopleIt's like NYC at Thanksgiving all the time. There are people everywhere. Don't let this freak you out. Just prepare for it. Even the most extroverted people might find it off-putting. So remember to find time by yourself for a minute. In your hotel room. Listening to music. Reading a book. Somehow you'll need to escape the crazy.
- •Poverty is everywhereYou will see a lot of poverty. Extreme poverty. There will be small children asking you for money - especially if you are any race other than Indian. You will want to help. But be careful. I'm not saying don't help, but I am saying this: if you let your empathy meters go all the way up and you focus too much on the state of those around you, you will drive yourself mad. Seriously. Help. It's good to help. But research ways to help before you go, so when you're in India you're not consumed by it.
- •People have servants. Don't judge.You've heard horror stories about servants in India. There are horror stories for every job. Most servants are treated pretty well. They get a roof over their head, food every meal, and most people help with their servants' medical bills. So home/food/health are covered. Their pay goes to other things. Mostly family. It's weird to sit with someone who is being waited on hand and foot, but it's normal in India. Even my dishwasher woman complains when her dishwasher woman doesn't show up.
- •Don't pet the dogs. Or any animal.I don't know why Americans feel so bad for stray dogs and want to pet them. And there are a LOT of strays in India. Sure, feel bad for them. I especially do when I see the puppies. But don't pet them. I've known so many people who've been bit by strays. And anyway, you'll probably catch something or get fleas. This goes for all stray animals in India.
- •If you're white, people will ask to take pictures with you.This will be weird at first. They don't know who you are. It's just that most people have never seen a white person before. This will mostly happen when visiting monuments. And especially if you have red or blond hair. Just roll with it. Take pictures when asked. Enjoy feeling like Angelina Jolie at Disneyland.
- •You might get carsickEven if you usually don't. The traffic is terrible. The roads are awful. It's hot. People drive like maniacs. I get sick a lot. Bring motion-sickness medicine. You might not get sick, but it's good to be prepared.
- •Don't drink the water. Don't eat the street food.This sounds obvious, but people do it. Order bottled water at restaurants. Don't accept water offered you in stores. Don't buy street food. This way you don't get sick.
- •Go shoppingGo to buy shawls or saris or something Indian. Not just to get something Indian, but because shopping in India is a unique experience. You'll love it.
- •Dress up - especially in DelhiIndians are all about designer clothes. Designer everything. When they go out, anywhere, they look nice. Put a little effort into what you're wearing. I can't tell you how many tourists walk around in cargo pants and baggy shirts. And they stand out BIG TIME.
- •Dress modestlyIndians are modest. Be respectful of that and dress modestly. Nothing short. No low cut shirts. They'll appreciate it.
- •Remember things are differentThere are huge malls with designer stores right next to markets that haven't changed since the Middle Ages. There are rickshaws (take them, they're fun!). There are animals in the street (especially cows), and people everywhere. Embrace it. It's different and wonderful. It's all part of the beauty of India.