The world is quite interested in travelling to India – A mystic land of beauty, tradition, culture and natural extravaganza. Since India is known for its rich cultures and traditions, understanding its culture is the best way to enjoy the land!
Travelling to India is an opportunity that one should not miss, but with a few tips on how, where and when, your vacation in India can be a fascinating one. Although India is a modern country in many ways, it is not liberal like the western countries. The Indians are religious, love their traditions and respect their age-old customs.
Here are a few important social rules and if you follow them, you will love India more than any other country.
When in India, relish food like an Indian does
India is an interesting country with diverse cuisine and tastes; you must try the different foods as food variety changes every 100 km! However, note that most Indian foods are spicy, hot and can be oily. If you are a westerner, you simply will not be able to digest the food the way it is prepared. So insist on it being less spicy and hot. Since India is a tropical land, having freshly cooked food can save you from getting sick. Of course, the delicious food will make you forget everything! The beautiful spread of tempting dishes is irresistible, and you can enjoy sweet preparations, curries, vegetarian food and non-vegetarian food as well.
Whether restaurants or street food?
If you want to know India, you have to try the street food as this is the place you get to know what the real India is and what Indians like. The street food is yummy, easy on the pocket and easily available everywhere in the country. However, precaution first; you should not indulge more in it as it might not be hygienic and your stomach is not accustomed to such food. Restaurants, on the other hand, are safe, serve fresh and clean food and can prepare as per your recommendation.
Do not play with water!
Avoid tap water, as you are not accustomed like an ordinary Indian is. Always insist for the bottled water and check if the cap of the bottle is not tampered. It would be a good idea to carry a steripen that helps you to purify water which does not create heaps of plastic when you leave. Carry the right medicines for you which are a must as you do not want to come in contact with allergies, bacteria and malaria.
Try to dress differently
Before you step into the Indian Territory, know the culture and tradition briefly, regarding the clothes to be worn, the way of living, the religious aspects, etc. If you want to have a closer look, understand that women need to dress up appropriately without showing too much of the skin, if you are in smaller cities. However, if you are travelling in large metros like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, there can be no issue if women wear shorts or short tops. But if you are travelling in smaller cities, you have to cover yourself properly or the locals do not appreciate, and you may also attract unwanted glares from the men.
Being polite can save you from hassles and let you enjoy more
Of course, in India, people can ask questions which can be personal. Remember, they can be simply inquisitive and do not mean to harm you. It’s a different culture here, and these questions are indicative of the polite interest of the locals in you. Remember, you will also be squished in the lift, in the public transport, on roads and other places. The country is highly populated, and these things are going to be everywhere. Enjoy it and don’t get aggressive.
Know the Culture and traditions prevailing in India
Watch the feet and hands because if you touch anything by the feet, say your feet touch the other person’s feet, you immediately have to apologize. Eating with the left hand is not appreciated here. The feet and the left hand are not considered to be clean in India. The right hand is considered auspicious and used to eat food. Always offer anything to anyone with the right hand only. Do not pass half eaten fruit or food to others as even this is not appreciated. If you are visiting the religious places, ask the locals about the right conduct regarding the offerings, clothes, shoes, the way to behave inside, etc. Similarly, while entering homes of friends or others, remember to remove the shoes at the doorstep as shoes are not allowed inside the homes. Indians believe that shoes make the homes dirty.
Dealing with Public washrooms in India
In India, not all public washrooms offer toilet paper, even the ones labeled ‘western toilet’ do not have toilet paper, but offer water and soap. This is not an issue if you carry your own toilet paper, some sanitary hand wash, wet wipes, etc. Mini rolls come in handy here as they can be carried easily in your day pack. Always carry a torch with you as the whole country faces power outages anytime!
No to Public display of affection to the opposite sex in India
No! Do not hold hands of your girlfriend/boyfriend or walk closely on the Indian streets. Of course, you are not allowed to kiss in public places or even hug other people when you meet them. It might just be a handshake or a ‘Namaste’ which is appropriate. Your demonstration of physical affection with your partner in public can attract people who do not appreciate such gestures. Of course, you can hug your male friend if you are male or a female friend if you are female. You can also hold hands or rest it on the shoulder of your buddy in public places.
Haggling and scam
Shopping on the streets can be fun as India offers unique things for a tourist. Here is an interesting tip that bargaining is a must if you are on the streets. If you are a total foreigner, be polite and start by half the price that has been asked for initially. Many people might rip you off for e.g. the taxi driver, the guide, the sellers, etc. Ensure you know the prices before you are into it.
India is a different land with hundreds of languages, dialects, culture, and traditions. You might need a lifetime to understand the essence of India. You will definitely fall in love while you are leaving this wonderful country.