40 Points to Remember for Westerners
travelling to India.
1. Take a sleeping bag with sleeping bag interior cotton sheet. (It can get cold at night. If it is very hot, you may go to the hills or mountains, where you will need the sleeping bag. The cotton sheet come in useful if sleeping bag not used.
2. Use anti-bacterial hand gel. Always use after toilet and always before eating. Stomach upsets come from dirty hands far more than contaminated food.
In Alphabetical order
1. Always tip rickshaw, auto rickshaw wallahs, and other drivers.
2. Arrive at railway station in plenty of time
3. As a foreigner, you may well be stared at by a man or several men. Take no notice. Don’t react.
4. Avoid arguing with people. Calmly explain the reasons for your view.
5. Avoid beedies and cigarettes. Both have a very high nicotine and tar content to increase speed of addiction for profit.
6. Avoid fruit juicers on the street as juicer may not be clean.
7. Avoid grapes. May be unwashed and not easy to wash with clean water.
8. Avoid salads when eating out.
9. Be humble, namely a willingness to learn, rather than showing Western arrogance.
10. Be mindful of gurus caught up in money, power and sex.
11. Be a vegetarian in India like the majority of citizens, and stay vegetarian after. More risk to health when eating meat.
12. Buy taxi fare in airport with prepaid ticket to save a hassle to fix price with taxi driver.
13. Don’t bathe in the Ganges.
14. Drink bottled water, never tap water
15. Eat fruit with skins (bananas and oranges) and peel other fruit.
16. Fix price before you get into the taxi or rickshaw
17. If you change money in bank, keep receipt so you can change back, if necessary.
18. India is much safer for travel for either gender than many other places in the world.
19. India reminds visitors to let go of all expectations. India is unpredictable, eccentric and chaotic. India is a challenge for new and experience India wallahs and that is part of the fascination for many.
20. Keep backpack or suitcase well under seat near window on the train.
21. Keep feet as clean and dry as possible.
22. Keep sores or cuts clean.
23. Keep passport, travel docs and money in pouch around the neck, not in shoulder bag.
24. Keep daypack close at hand, not near end of bench seat on train
25. Make sure you use the official Indian government website for your visa. There are lookalike websites which claim to be official government websites but are not.
26. Mango lassies are usually safe in good restaurants.
27. Mosquito repellent (electric plug in) works well in room or cream. Switch off plug for sleep.
28. Never leave your hostel or hotel room unlocked, even for a few minutes.
29. Railway thieves can board a train at station, walk through train, to see if Westerners or wealthy Indians are neglecting care of shoulder bag, handbag, daypack, and then take and get off train.
30. Seek out spiritual India, concerts, retreats, the arts, culture, alternative medicine, nature, architecture, NGOs, social/religious traditions and a diversity of environments.
31. Support the beggars. Keep money in purse for them. Only give fruit to children who are begging. Be prepared for more youngsters to turn up.
32. There is far more to India than hassles, pollution, corruption, poverty and hanging around Goa beaches.
33. Try to arrive in daylight at an Indian airport. Book hotel room before arrival and make sure you have full address for driver. Can be more hassle in the night.
34. Try to use trains for travel rather than planes. Trains reflect an authentic India, as well as fewer CO2 emissions.
35. Use face mask or scarf around nose and mouth if on dusty, polluted road or in auto rickshaw or rickshaw. Keep mouth closed to protect throat and lungs.
36. Watch your back with the cows wandering busy streets.
37. Ayurveda medicine is exceptionally effective for a variety of health issues.
38. Indian novelists and non-fiction writers create some of the best books in English literature.
39. Check out Indian cinema on DVDs. Numerous thoughtful films reflecting contemporary and ancient stories of life in India.
Stay as long as you can in India It genuinely can be a life-changing experience. People can return home with fresh values, fresh priorities, a new vision and a determination to follow it through.
(travelled overland to India in 1967)