Are you ready for India?
While surfing travel blogs I have come across both positive and negative comments about India. Some travelers absolutely love everything about the country. They don’t mind the crowds, the dust, the heat or the filth. They are smitten by this mad country and long to come back.
I have also come across several people who said they didn’t like the India experience. While I certainly sympathize with them, I have often wondered why.
India has everything for a tourist. There are deserts, snow-capped mountains, beaches, temples, hill stations and monuments. Indian food is savored by people all over the world. Then why didn’t these people like their holiday in India? Some said the incessant stares made them uncomfortable. Some had fallen prey to a scam. Some couldn’t stand the sight of beggars. Everybody has their pet peeves.
The stares, I guess, will be there. Indians, especially those living in rural areas, do not see foreigners on a regular basis. They stare at a foreigner because they are curious. They don’t mean any harm. A tourist can either ignore the stares or smile at the person staring at them. That second strategy will almost always solve the problem. As for scammers, well, they lurk in every corner. Like any other country in the world, India has its fair share of scammers. Look out for them. You should be on your guard when you are in a large country like this. In most cases, a traveler only has to apply common sense to see through these scams. If an offer seems too good to be true, it most probably is. Don’t fall for such traps. At most tourist places you can find trained guides authorized by the government. They speak English and other foreign languages. Hire them instead of relying on advice doled out by a potential con artist. Authorized guides have photo identity cards. If you can’t find the ID proof, ask them to show it.
Choose the right destination
When you visit India, choosing the right destination is particularly important because there are very many ‘Indias’.
Nevada probably isn’t all that different from California. To experience the American reality, you probably only have to visit one or two states in the US. All over America, you will find the same kind of people wearing the same kind of clothes. They speak the same language, eat the same kind of food and live in homes that look more or less the same.
India is very different. Here every state has its unique identity. The culture, languages, customs and costumes change every 200 kms. Yes, the festivals are the same but they are celebrated in entirely different ways. Tamil Nadu, for example, is very different from the neighboring state of Kerala. People look very different. They speak different languages, wear different kinds of clothes and eat different kinds of food.
Some cities and states are more crowded, noisier and dirtier. If you are looking to enjoy a quiet holiday in a quaint village, head to Goa, Himachal Pradesh or Kerala. These destinations won’t disappoint you. Travelers looking to enjoy a quiet holiday will be making a big mistake if they start their trip from a city like Mumbai. Mumbai isn’t for everyone. India isn’t for everyone either. It is a difficult place – one that will bring out the best and the worst in you. It will test your nerves and feast your eyes. It will attract and repel at the same time. India is for the explorer. It is for the seeker. Come here when you are ready for it. One-sixth of humanity lives here. The country has its many shortcomings. It has numerous plusses too.