Understanding India as a unitary state does not do justice to the huge country. The one India does not exist, rather it can be understood as a Europe in South Asia – with many different cultures and customs. India is made up of 29 states, many of which exhibit a wide variety of different cultures even within their borders. India has nine main religions, 23 recognized languages and a wide variety of different regional dances, music, food, architecture, etc.
Despite this diversity, the Indian states are united in the greatest democracy the world has seen so far. More than 1.3 billion people live in India; 814 million people were eligible to vote in the last federal election – almost twice as many as the entire European population. India is a superlative not only politically but also economically: India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This can be attributed to a large working population, low wages and recent reforms. Some reforms also affected online casinos, you can choose the best ones here.
India’s appeal is based not only on cultural and economic considerations, but also on spectacles created by nature. With natural monuments such as the Himalayas, the Ganges, the many forests (e.g. the Shola forest or the Bhitarkanika mangroves), but also its deserts (e.g. the sand dunes of Jaisalmer), India is probably a country with one of the largest biodiversities in the world. India is a subcontinent after all!
No question about it: traveling to India is an adventure. But that shouldn’t stop you from venturing out! We have put together ten tips that will prepare you for India and help you travel.
Things to consider when traveling to India:
The Indian food is amazing! Each dish is prepared with so many spices that enjoying Indian food is a very valuable and unique culinary experience. Even if it can take a while to get used to the sharpness, the effort is definitely worth it. Those who take the time to familiarize themselves with Indian food, who make sure to only eat well-cooked or peeled, will find great joy in Indian cuisine.
When you are invited to a friend’s house in India, you are often treated like a little king or queen. You get a lot to eat and drink and are showered with gifts. But as hospitable as the friends are, you may be irritated when you are in traffic in India. As soon as one wants to get on a bus or train, restraint is a virtue that should be abandoned. Rejecting the third plate of food in private and not having to look after the departing bus in public spaces requires a healthy amount of assertiveness, but never the abandonment of friendliness!
India is an extremely populous state, and some parts of the country are among the most densely populated places in the world. That sometimes makes privacy a rare commodity. Even if you manage to have a room to yourself, keep in mind that the caretaker could always come in to fix or clean something. The same applies to the public: Due to the high density of people and human curiosity, it is sometimes impossible to write a message or make a call in public without several people reading or overhearing. It takes some time to get used to the crowd of people in the big cities. However, once you’ve spent some time there, you learn to appreciate these circumstances too.
Eating habits in India
Eating with your fingers seems weird when you’re still in Europe, but once you’re in India it feels like the most normal thing in the world. Most of the dishes here are prepared to be eaten by hand. The best thing to do is to let Indian friends show you the right technique or just watch others eat. The technology is out in no time. The best thing about it: You can enjoy the food for a long time, because the smell and color of most dishes stay on your hands long after you have eaten!
Walking on the sidewalk vs. Walking on the street
Sidewalks in India are a suggestion and not a must. Sometimes the sidewalks are too dirty or small huts are built on them so that you often have to walk on the streets. You don’t have to be very scared of walking on the road, drivers are usually very careful. However, one should not make any movements that are too sudden or unexpected.
Some concrete, “materialistic” advice
Especially during the rainy days, but also during the dry season, it is advisable to bring some well-sealable plastic bags. They should be so well made that e.g. the cell phone can be used without having to take it out of the plastic bag. This protects the technical objects from getting wet or dusty!
The Indian sun can be hot and unyielding. If you have light or sensitive skin, you will most likely have problems with it. You get sunburn faster than you think. So don’t forget sunscreen!
India is beautiful, but India is also loud. Be it the seemingly endless honking of the cars on the streets, the loud music in every restaurant or in the bars, or simply the neighbors enjoying their lives. You have to be prepared – mentally and physically – with earplugs!
When the monsoons come, the heavy rain can start within seconds without having time to take out an umbrella or a rain jacket – or the shower is over again when you have opened the umbrella or unpacked the rain jacket. So you should be prepared with the right clothes. Waterproof sandals are one of the things that make life much more comfortable in the Indian rainy season: the water flows in, but also out again just as quickly. And you get the foot shower for free, so the rain can come!
Mosquitoes in India are small and noiseless. You can neither see nor hear them, but their bites itch like all mosquitos. They can also transmit some unpleasant diseases. Better safe than sorry: use insect repellent! Another option is incense sticks. They not only keep mosquitoes away, but also enjoy a part of Indian culture at the same time!