If you’ve never been to India it’s difficult to understand what it’s really like. India is a country you had to experience to know what it’s all about. You don’t need to stay there for a long time to experience the big difference with our modern society. Last year I went travelling through India, Nepal, New Zealand and Indonesia, but without a doubt India has made the biggest impression on me. That might have to do with the fact it was my first stop, or the fact that it’s the most extreme country I’ve ever been to.
I started off in Mumbai, which is a massive culture shock on its own. It’s really like your starring in the movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, not exaggerated. Massive slums on the side of the dusty roads, always full of traffic and cars making great use of their klaxon, since there don’t seem to be any traffic regulations. It’s like all sixteen million (!) inhabitants decided to leave the house at the exact same time. A few daredevils even try to cycle through the mass of cars that don’t seem to bother hitting something or someone.
In India you have to haggle, if you’re not good at it, practice before you go, you’re gonna need it. Indiërs see you as a walking rupee, so don’t be surprised if you get ripped off big time. Don’t be so happy buying plastic slippers for ten dollars, unless you wanted to do the seller a big favor, he probably can eat for a month for this amount of money.
There’s cows EVERYWHERE. On the roads, at the doorstep, on the beaches.. Cows are holy remember? Remember it well, because you can get a serious amount of prison time when you hurt a cow. There’s no such thing as having a big steak in India, the food is mostly vegetarian and they love their spicy rice curry! People here don’t eat with cutlery, but with their right hand! It’s very inapropriate to hand someone something with your left hand, this hand you use for going to the toilet! (more coming up) The food in India is delicious, so try as much as you can! Don’t let the smell of cowshit or cockroches running over the table ruin that for you.
Don’t be surprised that people find your Western look interesting. People in India don’t find staring inappropriade, no matter from what distance, so you just might find yourself surrounded by twenty Indiers staring at you. The kids are pushed to shake your hands and the women would like you to hold their babies.
What I thought I would have to get used to is peeing outside, with people watching, under unsanitary circumstances, crouched over a hole in the ground. Turns out it’s not so bad, well, let’s say you get used to it fairly quickly. If you have to go, you have to go. Make sure you wear slippers and try not to pee all over your feet 😉 Crouching while peeing turns out to actually be quite comfortable, if you have a spraying hose. You could also be less fortunate and having to clean your bum with a tiny bucket and some water. (Use your left hand, remember?) Oh, did I not tell you they don’t use toiletpaper? Also, when you did make a big poo (or some thinner version of it, not uncommon while visiting India!), you’d need some serious flushing experience to get the whole ‘thing’ down the drain. Just saying.
Where my boyfriend paid a tenner for a pair of shitty slippers, I bought a lovely dress for less than a euro. India is full of colorful dresses and shoes, cheap! When you go to India, don’t bring any clothes, you can buy them there. Just make sure you bring enough short sleeved shirts too, in India it’s not appropriate for women to show their shoulders.
You could ask to wash your clothes in a laundryroom, but why not wash it like the locals in the dirty river with water and a bit of soap? Respect for these people who wash their clothes like this every day, you need quite some arm muscles and determination to get the stains out, I couldn’t do it!
In November they celebrate Divali, the festival of lights. People buy colorful lanterns and share sweets and love! It looks amazing! Fireworks, music, colorful clothes and lots of dancing on the beach make this holiday really special!
Most Indians are Hindu, and most hindus live in India. In general the women wear the most amazing colorful saris which are short tops that cover breasts and shoulders with colorful strips of unstitched cloths wraped around it then draped over the shoulder.
When in India you will see a lot of different symbols. The Aum symbol is the most common one, is represents:
> the three worlds – earth, atmosphere, and heaven
> the three major Hindu gods – Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva
> the three sacred Vedic scriptures – Rg, Yajur, and Sama
The swastika is an ancient symbol that has been found worldwide, but it is especially common in India. Its name comes the Sanskrit wordsvasti (sv = well; asti = is), meaning good fortune, luck and well-being.
India has different amazing landscapes everywhere you go. It’s so amazing! I only saw I small part of India, considering what a massive country it is, but even travelling a little bit makes a huge difference. Where you find citylife and dust in the one spot, you get endless ricefields or massive orange rocks in the other, of rainforest where you might spot some wild animals. A cool way to explore the country is by renting a bike and drive around.
From amazing landscapes to extreme poverty
and mountains of garbage, overful train where you’d meet a diversity of people. From dirty smells and hygene problems, to wonderful people with lots of colors.
India is as well beautiful and amazing, as incredibly dirty and poor. India is indeed incredible.
Lots of love,smiles and happiness,