If you asked me today where I would go back, it didn’t take me 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 what really attracted me, I cannot answer it.
India is chaotic, noisy, the food itches just by looking at it, the sellers of whatever try to sell you anything using the words that are, but still remember it with love, you assume it as part of the travel experience and after all In a few weeks you won’t be able to live without it.
If I think today what advice I can give to someone who is going to travel to India, I would ignore what is coming in all the guides and I would focus on what marks you, what you should know in advance and that it is unlikely that you You find in another country.
The spicy has no graduation
You go to a restaurant and ask “does that itch a lot?” And the waiter looks at you with the face of “we are in India, flat so be prepared to turn red” and without letting you think he recommends another dish that “itches less” and starts you to talk about medium and low itching. In the end you decide, you order your dishes and your mouth is watering. Water, that is exactly what you will need because it turns out that the little itchy reminds you of the time you burned with the iron and the medium itching could turn you into a Khaleesi dragon . Do not worry, after a few days you will continue to find that the food itches but you will like it.
Animals are free
The first day I was in New Delhi, I met a group of cows that walked along the street and took many pictures. After a while I saw others and again more photos and so on until the second day they seemed as familiar to me as the man who was pushing a fruit car or the bicycle that was brushing 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 waiting for it they can run in a group and crush you like it was about to happen to us 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 Indian tourists taking pictures of the people who were praying the Hail Mary or the Our Father and it shocked me a lot until I remembered that foreign tourists did the same with Hindu or Buddhist temples. With their super cameras of powerful flashes and long tripods they turned prayer into a tourist attraction. Go, look and be discreet, it’s a good way to respect
I know, I said it and I repeat: it is a country where there is a lot of noise. India looks like those restaurants where at a table they speak loudly, the next table increases the volume and after a few minutes it is a noise of screaming. Cars and tuk-tuk do not use lights to indicate that they will turn; It is not necessary if having the horn is much nicer . I don’t know how they do it but they don’t confuse it with the one who touches it so that a dog separates or the one who greets his cousin who just crossed the corner. It’s a dance of noises in the street that you get used to after a couple of days.[bctt tweet = »In India there is no spicy graduation. Everything is very itchy! »]
Get ready to go to the bathroom … many times
Before traveling I have taken all the medicines and I pricked myself so that he does not give me anything strange. Miri did the same and we were very calm because we were protected. We paid attention to not drinking tap water, to wash our hands and to breathe just and necessary, I don’t know something that would get us through our nose. We were so scared before we went that we only lacked the white suit from head to toe to look like CSI’s. And, even if you don’t believe it, an unexpected friend called diarrhea who took us to the bathroom has visited us so many times that at times there was nowhere to get. The good thing is that nothing happened and maybe it is 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 it seemed to me that everything was not clean enough. It is true that I have not gone to five-star hotels, nor four, nor three, nor … but I expected to find a more normal place. I do not know what the reason for this is but if I return today I would go with the same care because you never know what you can take to your mouth.
They won’t stop stalking you to sell you something
It took me five days to learn it, but in the end I did it: if you cross your eyes with someone on the street they will talk to you . He will sell you something, he will tell you that he knows a place to go. The tuk-tuk driver or cousin of the neighbor’s friend who makes beautiful blankets will introduce you to his uncle. Whatever it is, it will chase you through several streets until you run away and leave it talking alone. I have not known more insistent sellers than the Indians so if you do not want to be insisted 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 he separates, I know that It sounds derogatory but they have told me that it is the way they understand that you don’t want to know anything.
If you go south everything changes
By time, by familiarity or by budget, most of the trips made to India point north on a route that goes from New Delhi to Varanasi through the mythical Taj Mahal (or Majal, as you prefer) in Agra, but if you can You should go south. The rugged and dry landscape transforms into a lush, moist green with a much calmer rhythm. In the south the Portuguese made an appearance and his hand is so noticeable that at times he reminded me of when I visited these small towns in Brazil.
Supermarket? Forget that
There is not a single supermarket. Do not search it. Really, there isn’t. Now that it was clear that there is none, I tell you that I made a list of things I wanted to buy in a supermarket and ended up going to small shops where, luckily, they had everything I needed. I thought it was not so big cities (and that it was in Delhi) and I waited to be in Bombay, a place with skyscrapers like New Yorkers and girls who dress Channel, but I did not find. If there is one, it will be hidden, it will be an underground supermarket or they will have camouflaged it with a Buddhist temple . The good thing is that the big chains have not reached into that and people can continue selling their products.
On the trains, relax and rest
The trains in India can be slow, some can be hot and in all you will find a lot of people, but they are your friends. If you are going to travel long distances, why go to a hotel if you can hire a trip where you can sleep in a bed and get up the next day. Or you can take the opportunity to buy a ticket from a cheaper 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 through the window wanting to enter , do not panic, it is part of the charm. We loved it.
Do not be stingy
The fixed price of things is, although we don’t believe it, something relatively new in the world. In many countries it is not even 100 years old and before that all prices were negotiated. The seller said a price, the buyer bargained and so they fought until they reached an agreement. In India that is still being done and I think that sellers love it, it’s like a kind of game. Well, it turns out that sometimes we can also love it and we can haggle so much that we forget that a ride on a rickshaw costs a sweat to whoever pedals and we can’t pay miserable coins.
If I were traveling to India for the first time today, this is the best advice you could give me. 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 the culture shock will be immense. I would like to be told to let me go, to let me carry and that everything flows. Enjoy; let yourself go; Do not question and open your eyes, ears and, above all, the mind.