If I were asked today which site I would return to, I did not take a second to respond: India. It is as loud as it is beautiful, it is as warm as it is attractive, it is as different as it is unforgettable, it is a country that does not resemble any, and even many years later, if I stop to think about what really attracted me, I cannot respond.
India is chaotic, noisy, food stings just by looking at it, the vendors of whatever they try to sell whatever it is using the words that it is, but still you remember it with affection, you assume it as part of the experience of the trip and to the end Of a few weeks you will not be able to live without it.
If today I think what advice, I can give to someone who is going to travel to India would ignore recommending what comes in all the guides and I would focus on what marks you, that you must know in advance and that it is unlikely that you find in another country.
The spicy has no graduation
You go to a restaurant and ask “does that sting a lot?” And the waiter looks at you with “we are in India, boring so be prepared to get red” and without letting you think you are recommending another dish that “stings less” To talk about the middle and lower itch. At the end you decide, you order your dishes and you make your mouth water. Water, that’s exactly what you’ll need because it turns out that what bit you little reminds you of the time you burned with the iron and the medium itch could turn you into a Khaleesi dragon. Do not worry, after a few days you will continue to find that the food stings but you will like it.
The animals are free
The first day I was in New Delhi I came across a group of cows walking in the street and I made lots of photos. After a while, I saw others and again more photos and so until the second day they seemed as familiar to me as the gentleman who was pushing a fruit cart or the bike that was rubbing your feet. Animals live in freedom and that includes dogs, cats, monkeys and cows, among others. In most cases they are very good, but be careful because without you expecting them they can run in a group and they will crush you as it was about to happen in Varanasi.
Temples are not tourist sites
In the south, in Goa, I went to a Catholic church (it is an area where Catholicism is very present) and I met with Indian tourists taking photos of the people who were praying the Hail Mary or the Our Father and I was very shocked until I remembered that the foreign tourists did the same with the Hindu or Buddhist temples. With their super-cameras of powerful flashes and long tripods, they turned the prayer into a tourist attraction. Go, look and be discreet, is a good way to respect
I already know, I said it and I repeat it: it is a country where there is much noise. India resembles those restaurants where at a table they speak loudly, the table next to it increases the volume and after a few minutes is a noise of shouts. Cars and tuk-tuk do not use lights to indicate they are going to turn; No need if having the horn is much more nice. I do not know how they do it but they do not confuse it with the one who touches it so that a dog leaves or the one who greets his cousin who just crossed the corner. It is a dance of noises in the street that you get used to after a couple of days.
Get ready to go to the bathroom … many times
Before traveling, I have taken all the medicines and pricked myself so that it does not give me anything weird. Miri did the same and we were very quiet because we were protected. We took care not to drink tap water, to wash our hands and to breathe just and necessary I do not know anything that we enter something through the nose. We were so scared before we went that we only needed the white suit from head to toe to look like CSI. And, believe it or not, we were visited by an unexpected friend called diarrhea who took us to the bathroom so many times that there was nowhere to get it. The good thing is that nothing happened and maybe it was due to all the care we had. Better read this post to know what vaccines and medicines are needed … the brand of toilet paper you choose.
Lack of cleanliness is normal
One of the things that caught my attention is that in many places cleaning was not the priority, or maybe yes but to me it seemed like it was not clean enough. It is true that I have not been to five-star hotels, not four, not three, or … but I was hoping to find a more normal place. I do not know what is the reason for this but if I come back today I would go with the same care because you never know what you can bring to your mouth.
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They will not stop harassing you to sell you something
It took me five days to learn it, but in the end I did it: if you cross your gaze with someone on the street you will talk. He will sell you something; he will tell you that he knows a place to go. Will introduce you to your uncle the tuk-tuk driver or the cousin of the neighbor’s friend who makes some pretty blankets. Whatever it is will chase you down several streets until you run out and leave it alone. I have not known vendors more insistent than the Indians so if you do not want them to insist so much better not to cross the eyes, not to speak to him, not to say anything to him and, if you can, you must make a gesture with the hand so that it leaves, Sounds contemptuous but they themselves have told me that it is the way they understand that you do not want to know anything.
If you go south everything changes
By time, by familiarity or by budget, most trips to India point north on a route that goes from New Delhi to Varanasi passing through the mythical Taj Mahal in Agra, but if you can You should go south. The wild, dry landscape turns into leafy green, damp and with a much calmer rhythm. In the south, the Portuguese made their presence known and their hand was so noticeable that at times he reminded me when he visited those small towns in Brazil.
Supermarket? Forget that
There is not a single supermarket. Do not look for it. Really, there is not. Now that it was clear that there is no I tell you that I made a list of things I wanted to buy in a supermarket and ended up going to small stores where, fortunately, they had everything I needed. I thought it was not so big cities (and that was in Delhi) and I waited to be in Bombay, a place with skyscrapers like the New Yorkers and girls who wear Channel, but I did not find it. If there is one hidden, it will be an underground supermarket or have camouflaged it with a Buddhist temple. The good thing is that the big chains have not gotten their hands on that and people can continue to sell their products.
On the trains, relax and rest
Trains in India can be slow, some can be hot and in all you will meet a lot of people, but they are your friends. If you are going to travel great distances why go to a hotel if you can hire a trip that you can sleep in a bed and get up the other day. Or you can use to buy a ticket of a more economic sector and mix with the locals. If the train stops, in the middle of nowhere, people go down to stretch their legs and a monkey looks at you out the window wanting to get in, do not be scared, it’s part of the charm. We loved it.
Do not be stingy
The fixed price of things is, although we do not believe it, something relatively new in the world. In many countries, it is not 100 years old and before that all prices were negotiated. The seller said a price, the buyer haggled and so they fought until they reached an agreement. In India that is still done and I believe that the sellers love it, it’s kind of like a game. Well, it turns out that sometimes we can also love it and we can get to haggle so much that we forget that a trip in a rickshaw costs sudo to who pedalea and we cannot pay him miserable coins.
If I traveled to India for the first time this is the best advice I could get. I would like someone to come and tell me that I will have a great time, that it will be an experience that will literally be unforgettable, that I will think about returning every year, that cultural shock will be immense. I would like to be told to let me take, to let me carry and that everything flows. Enjoy; let yourself go; Not questions and open wide eyes, ears and, above all, the mind.
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