India is a wonderful place. But if you want to enjoy it for real, you must be well prepared and organised. It is very important to respect the specific culture of India wherever you go. Here are 7 tips for enjoying this beautiful country to the max…
– Dress conservatively – India’s culture is pretty modest. Indian people are friendly and forgiving of those who don’t know their culture, but it is definitely good to learn some of it in advance and show some respect. You should know that the clothes you usually wear at home are not always appropriate for your India break, in fact, they are often offensive to Indians. Short skirts and shorts are not acceptable. You should cover your cleavage, shoulders, knees and upper arms.
– Eat with your right hand – Cutlery-free eating is normal all around India. It means you eat with your hand, but you should never use your left hand, which is considered highly inappropriate. Correct etiquette would be to fold your naan bread or chapati over your food, squeeze together and then eat it. When there isn’t any bread available, you should use your five fingers to combine rice with the rest of the food into a ball and eat it, but be careful not to shove food into your mouth with fingers.
– Be aware of scams – In India, scams are everywhere, from taxis to property rental, and it is really important to avoid them. Here are some of the most common scams that you’re likely to find. Taxi drivers often pretend not to know the way to your hotel, or say that it is closed. Some of them alter their meters to run fast to claim a higher fare, while some offer a reduced fare if you agree to stop at a few expensive shops on the way, where they get commissions. When you book a ticket, and reach the station someone usually comes to you telling that your train has been cancelled, offering you a car at high prices. There is also temple donation scam. Pilgrims usually give a donation of about 20 Rupees when visiting a sacred place. But tourists become targets for money-makers who ask the donation of 500-1000 Rupees. When you go shopping, the best thing to do is to shop in Government shops and avoid scams. Other shop keepers usually try to rip you off. Avoid fake “information offices”.
– Choose your route carefully – You may not believe it, but if you want to get a true sense of India, you should visit smaller places. The cities are too big and crowded; they are always hectic and loud. If you want a perfect holiday in India you should take a trip to the mountains or more peaceful places in the south and enjoy the famous hospitality and fantastic places and scenery. You should also have in mind that there are two monsoon seasons in India that hit different parts of the country at different times. Between June and August the summer monsoon brings heavy rain to the west coast and big areas of northern India. The winter monsoon brings rain and cooler weather to south-east India between October and December.
– Don’t be too precious about your personal space – Everywhere you go you will be squeezed and squashed: on public transport, in lifts, even streets. People will ask personal questions you may find upsetting, but you should bare in your mind that India has a completely different culture and that these questions just show polite interest in you. Wherever you are and whatever you do people will probably gather and surround you and often stare at you in silence.
– Remember that Indian time is relative – You should know that in India one minute lasts unusually long. So, don’t be surprised if you wait for half an hour after you’ve been assured to wait only for five minutes. Since it is so crowded, getting around the place always takes a lot more time than you expect. You should always expect unexpected waits.
– Stay safe – As in any other place in the world, there are certain dangers when you come to India. But there are also different ways to avoid them. Try not to walk along dark streets alone; don’t carry huge amounts of cash, because pickpocketing is a huge problem in crowded Indian cities; try to stay cool if you get into an unpleasant exchange at a market, be nice but firm.