India is an insanely cool place to visit; it’s chaotic, it’s colourful and it’s a total culture shock however there were some things I learned during my time in India that would have been handy to know before I embarked upon my journey.
I didn’t travel India alone. In fact I was with my family: my mum, dad and younger sister so my experience will definitely differ to those that visited India solo but never the less I found the experience completely eye opening and life changing. The culture completely different to anything that I had ever experienced before and although it’s been a few years since I found myself in India, I thought a list like this would have been helpful for when I travelled. So here’s what to expect when you have no idea what to expect when you’re visiting India for the first time:
You’re going to get stared at A LOT
(This is providing of course that you don’t look Indian in any way shape or form).
Being a blonde haired, green eyed, white girl, I found I was stared at constantly. This is basically a given no matter where you go in India and although you may find it strange or uncomfortable, 99% of the time the locals are benevolent and are simply curious and interested in you. Nothing to worry about!
You’re going to get asked for photographs
For the same reasons as stated above, people are going to want to take photos of you wherever you go. This can take some getting used to and although initially it’s entertaining that people want to photograph you, you should never feel obliged to take a photo with anyone if you don’t want to.
Avoid touching when possible
This tip comes in handy especially when taking photos with the locals. Initially when getting our photos taken with men, my sister and I would put our arms around them just as we would in Western culture however a local guide told us that touching between men and women in public isn’t the done thing in India and is often considered sexual. One man actually got much too close for comfort and after that encounter I definitely kept my hands to myself!
The food is usually vegetarian
Being a huge fan of Indian food normally, it still took a while getting used to eating spice-heavy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner (yes, even breakfast!). Although there are meat options available, keep in mind that the majority of the population in India are vegetarians meaning that most of their food options are too which I was more than happy to eat anyway. After all, it was all delicious!
Poverty is all around you
This probably won’t come as a shock to many of you but hearing about the poverty and seeing the poverty are two completely different things altogether. Nothing can prepare you for seeing the beggars, sweat shops and slums which house approximately 60% of Mumbai’s population.
Don’t expect to leave India the same person as when you arrived
India is an absolute core shaker and your perspective on life will completely change for the better once you visit this amazing country. The majority of the people in India have nothing but their levels of happiness and sense of community parallel to none. You will be blown away by the hospitality of the locals, the hustle and bustle of the cities and be confronted in ways you can’t even imagine. I left India with a strong sense of awareness of the opportunities in life I took for granted and I still to this day thank India for giving me this new perspective on life.
Have you ever been to India? What tips would you give for someone who had never been? Leave them in the comments below!
Here’s a link to one of my blog posts from India: Madness in Mumbai,