First time in India? Asked the Rickshaw driver.
Yes, ”I replied as I wiped the sweat from my forehead due to the 45 degrees of heat and 70% humidity in New Delhi.
So welcome, India is incredible, you are going to love it and the people are very friendly –said the driver.
These were the last words the driver said to me a few minutes before he tried to scam me. No, he was not the only one who tried.
I will not deny it, I love India but there are so many things that I hated at the time. Of the twelve weeks I traveled around the country, two of them, the thought of “I have to get out of here immediately” went through my head day and night.
So I’ll warn you, if this is your first time traveling to India the first few days you are going to hate it.
It is a process that everyone has to go through but do not worry, this hatred will gradually dissolve. You will discover the true India, one that must be looked at with emotions and not with reason, at that moment you will love it.
This article will help you prepare for your first trip to India, it will not be easy but it will be a life-changing trip.
Recommendations for traveling to India – Emotional Blows
I don’t think I’ve ever been in a country that affected me as emotionally as India. Extreme poverty, animals in different moods on all sides and extreme dirt are just some of the first comments and warnings that people will make before leaving.
This is one of the main reasons why people do not enjoy their trip, they are not prepared for this.
In India everything is taken to extremes. The sweet foods will be very sweet, the spicy ones will make you cry, the poverty will be such that it will destroy your heart but also the kindness and generosity of India are without equal.
If you want to know a little more about these extremes I wrote an article detailing a little more why people love or hate India .
Nothing you hear, read or see will emotionally prepare you for India, but don’t worry, just as in Hindu beliefs you will be destroyed and then reborn.
Recommendations for traveling to India – The curiosity of its population
The population of India is extremely curious, that it does not surprise you to be the center of attention in a market or an entire square, which makes traveling around the country uncomfortable on certain occasions.
You will constantly be harassed by requests to take your picture, in the markets they will yell at you and try to get your attention so that you buy something and you will feel like the looks are chasing you all the time. Eventually you will get used to this situation and discover that it is just the way of being.
Curiosity is genuine. Most people have never left India and even a large percentage have never seen a foreigner. Anything different catches their attention and they will try to get closer, talk to you and get to know you. If you allow yourself this curiosity can be transformed into memorable moments.
Recommendations for traveling to India – Food and vegetarianism
In the first point of my recommendations for traveling to India I mentioned that it is a place where things are taken to extremes including food, I reiterate, everything you try will have a very intense flavor.
At the beginning your stomach will have a hard time getting used to, but after a while it will become an experience that you will want to repeat over and over again.
Generally I try to eat on the street or in markets, it is where I have found the best flavors, but in India I made an exception. I walked away from the street food stalls and markets. Unfortunately, cleaning the country will make you doubt the food and the chances that you will get sick to your stomach are very high.
Another issue you should reconsider is eating any type of meat, chicken and fish. The country suffers from constant blackouts and power outages during the day and that makes keeping refrigerated food all the time quite complicated or impossible, so you better start exploring all the vegetarian options out there.
You will discover that in India the vegetarian menu is the most extensive, diverse and delicious that you have ever tasted.
Recommendations for traveling to India – Haggle
One of the most popular travel recommendations you will find is haggling over the price of things, in India this is taken to another level.
At the beginning I always thought that the issue of haggling was something that was done mainly between tourists and locals, but my surprise was that it was not. Haggling is part of Indian culture. They will never accept the first price they are offered, even when they are two people who have known each other for life.
In India nothing is a fixed price, even if there is a huge sign that says “fixed price does not haggle”, I assure you that you can improve the price.
Recommendations for traveling to India – Security
Broadly speaking, India is a safe country. I will not deny that it has certain social situations that can make it difficult for a single woman to travel through India, more details in this article on whether it is safe for a woman to travel to India , but in general it is a peaceful and safe country.
However if you look at the police on the streets of the cities you will notice that their only weapon, to call it in some way, is a bamboo stick. They do not require much to impose order because it is not necessary.
Its main religions profess peace. Their independence was achieved through non-violence and their beliefs make it unthinkable to do evil to someone. Take care of your person and belongings like anywhere else but I assure you that security will not be one of the main problems you will have on your trip.
Recommendations for traveling to India – Forget the logic
The last recommendation for traveling to India for the first time is perhaps the most important of all and is: forget about logic and reason.
If you are like me, a person who acts by logic and not by emotions, more than once you will be asking yourself questions such as: “But why? that makes no sense”
Exactly, in India nothing makes sense.
India was the birthplace of most civilizations, languages, and sciences. There are more than 1600 different languages in the country. They have the ability to send space missions to Mars, but most of the population has no water. Most of the world’s religions live in harmony and if you think that you are one in a million, that means that there are 1241 people in India just like you.
That’s how complicated, diverse and multicultural this country is. Things you thought impossible happen in India and that is what makes it so magical and incredible.
If you want another example of irrationality, just see the most representative monument in India, the Taj Mahal, this was not a work designed to improve the country, nor was it born from logic and reason, it was born from emotions. It is a posthumous gift from the emperor to his deceased wife.
Resources, money and more than 20,000 workers were used to build a work of love. This is the maximum expression of the irrationality India, a country where emotions reign and things do not make sense.
So my best advice to enjoy your next trip to India is to remember that India is not visited you live.
Finally, some recommendations for traveling to India but more related to logistics.
- Avoid the summer and monsoon months. From May to August the heat is unbearable in most of India and from July to September the rains make it very difficult to visit the country.
- The cheap flights to India are traveling to Mumbai. From here you can travel by train or plane to the north or south of the country.
- Book in advance all the hotels in India and although the taxi driver tried to convince you that this hotel “is closed” he asks to take you to the address otherwise they will try to take you to another place.
Remember that in India the Te Chai does not exist. Chai is the word for Tea, what you are really looking for is a Chai Masala, that is, a tea with spices. They sell it everywhere and eventually you won’t be able to stop drinking it.