Let’s be honest: India is a strange country. The landscapes/monuments are huge, beautiful and full of history, but the Indians are kind of strange…
It’s kind of difficult to have a straight opinion about them; they are really nice, want to help you every time, and love the tourists (a delight compared to French people). You are welcomed in every temple/sacred place, and discovering India is a true pleasure.
However, you discover rapidly why some Indians want to talk to you: most of them are just after your money. It seems like everybody knows a guy (or an agency) that can help us, find us a car, a hotel or a train ticket, and most conversations we had ended like this. They literally follow you during half an hour, even if you say no a hundred times, just in case you change your mind. If you’re French, it’s even worst (a lot of scammers speak French and use this as a “pick up” line) so we became Russians after a few days in India ^^.
All along our trip, we developed a catchphrase, “classic India”, used to qualify a situation/attitude/behavior specific to India. Let’s sum up our trip in India with some “classic India”:
– Everybody wants a picture: sometimes with you, sometimes not. At the end of the day, you have at least 40 pictures of random Indians.
– Indians males are very close, and often hold hands. Weird for Europeans when you’re taking a picture with them and they try to hold yours.
Yes, it’s difficult to stay natural while a stranger is trying to grab your hand!
– If an Indian haven’t understand a word of what you said, he says “yes”… not the easiest way to communicate.
” Is our room booked for tonight?”
“In which street is the hotel?”
– There is no middle class in India: You either rich or poor, that’s it. And 96,9% of Indians live with less than $5 a day. It slaps you in the face from the first day: garbage everywhere, rotting animals in the streets, people sleeping in the dirt.
– Since they’re sacred, you can’t own a cow, even move it: they are absolutely everywhere, and eat everything from plastic bottles to tissues.
– The typical pets are not cats (we didn’t see a single cat during our trip) or dogs: You can have cobras, monkeys, elephants, camels…
– If you’re not honking while driving in Delhi, you don’t know how to drive: welcome to the noisiest city in the world. You can also avoid the cities by taking the freeways, but you’ll have to face cows in the middle of the road and cars going the wrong way (true story).
– Taxes, taxes everywhere. for a simple dinner at a restaurant, you have to pay government taxes, service taxes or sometimes luxury taxes but apparently it depends on the moon’s rotation (or just the fact that you are a naive tourist).
– Indians are short according to their doors, but need big guns
– Sometimes, even Indian art is strange…
To conclude, you have to go to India: it’s an exotic ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience, full of treasures. But this trip can be challenging, particularly for the first-time visitor: the poverty is confronting, Indian bureaucracy can be exasperating and the crowd/noise sometimes turns the simplest task into an energy-zapping battle.
India: love it or loathe it