10 Things That Only Happen To You When Visiting India

10 Things That Only Happen To You When Visiting India

India, the land of smiles, stares and pretty amazing food.  It’s not a destination you can neither prepare for nor is it a place where you can expect everything to go smoothly.  While backpacking 6 weeks solo from Delhi to Mumbai, here are 10 things that happened to me and will also probably happen to you when visiting India.

 

  1. You will lose patience more than once

From India stretchy time, to public transport that never shows up, and stall vendors chasing you down the street, you are guaranteed to lose your patience and maybe a bit of your sanity too.  But just remember it will be exactly the same tomorrow!  No, seriously, it probably will but that’s when you will start to research how to meditate to calm your nerves.  The best advice I was given was from a Dutch lady I met in Varanasi who was incredibly calm.  She could see I was terrified of even replying to a shop owner because I was sick and tired of getting harassed so she said just go with it, reply back, make a joke and take everything with a grain of salt.  After spending the day with her and watching her getting cheeky with the street vendors and beggars, I learned that instead of getting angry at the people and then, in turn, they getting angry at you, it’s better to make a joke and smile with them.  They will leave you alone because they know they cannot crack you!

 

  1. You may temporarily give up and hide in your room

There will probably be a time when you think, what the hell am I doing here but that’s normal.  It happened to me within the first 48 hours of arriving in Delhi after the hotel manager stalked me and tried to break into my room, fun times.  My advice if you’re in that situation, don’t cry about it: just go and do something for yourself.  That’s when I decided to book a walking tour with the local kids from the slums and practically eat my way around the city.  Oh, I also moved to a hostel!

 

  1. You will have an epiphany

You may not become a yoga teacher that only wears white and eats on a Sunday, but you will have an epiphany during your time here, it’s hard not to.  When you see the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich, it’s impossible to not think about your own life and how you can contribute and help others.  My epiphany happened in Varanasi when I was overlooking the Ganges.  Seeing the devotion that these people have to their gods was incredible to see and very inspiring.

 

  1. You will feel like a celebrity and then you will wish you could take it back

Travelling India, especially as a blonde-haired, fair-skinned female was a head turner. I even saw multiple people nearly fall over themselves because they were too engaged staring at me.  If I would sit down at a Fort or attraction a line was then formed in front of me for people to take photos even if I wasn’t looking.  At a train station, someone gave me their baby.  I love babies, but when it had a wet nappy I was not keen to take a photo with her.  These experiences are one-of-a-kind and are a novelty, after a couple of hours it becomes a chore.  I met a girl who started charging 100 rupees a photo as a joke and people actually paid her!

10 Things That Only Happen To You When Visiting India

  1. You will probably get scammed and you won’t even know it

India is home to some pretty inventive scams.  From riots in Delhi, to free things that turn out to be really expensive things, you do have to keep your eyes open and expect these sorts of things to happen. It’s better to be prepared than not, so that’s why I wrote about all the scams to watch out for!   As soon as you become a master of how scams work you will never lose a dime!  Well, actually, be prepared to lose a few dimes while on your trip to India.  I got scammed 3 times in Varanasi.  It’s fair to say that was a bad day!

 

  1. Your plans will change

Make rough plans, but don’t plan every detail.  You may spend a day in a city and find it’s just not your sought of place.  I planned my first part of my trip because In India you have to pre-book trains sometimes months in advance to get a good seat.  By the end of the trip, I changed my plans and decided to fit in Goa at the end of my travels simply because I was exhausted and felt like I need a beach break!  Sometimes the best times come when you have no plans!  You will also meet lots of travellers that will give you recommendations of places to see, so it’s important to have a flexible schedule.

10 Things That Only Happen To You When Visiting India

  1. You will start to crave chai

Chai is all around you!  It’s served with all meals, it’s served when you are bargaining in a shop, and it’s served when you’re on a random rooftop looking out over Jaipur (yes, random I know).  I highly recommend getting a couple of packets to take home with you because when I came back to New Zealand I started to crave my morning chai so bad!  Don’t expect it to taste like the Starbucks version, once you have tried true Indian chai you will never go back.

 

  1. Suddenly having ‘you time’ becomes a necessity

Being around crowds of people will make you crave some alone time, which can be hard to come by in India.  It’s part of the reason I went to Goa at the end of my trip.  I walked down the beach, rented a little shack only steps away from the ocean and I have to say, it was the best decision.  There’s so much to take in from your trip so I think it’s a necessity to take some time and think about what you have seen and experienced so far so India doesn’t feel like a mad rush to you.

 

  1. You will crave western food but be thoroughly disappointed when it’s served

Don’t even bother ordering western food!   Dive deep into the Indian cuisine because there are so many dishes to taste.  Once I caved into my cravings and went to a German bakery.  I ordered a tomato and basil bruschetta as a starter and I got toast with chopped tomatoes from a can and dried basil you get out of a spice rack.  Yup, it was horrible, but very funny!

10 Things That Only Happen To You When Visiting India

  1. You will become an early morning riser

Whether it’s the noise of rickshaws or the howling of the array of wild animals walking the streets you will become a morning person whether you like it or not.  It’s not all bad though as it gets so hot, it’s actually better to see the attractions in the morning when it’s cool and there are fewer people.  I also found that India sunrises were some of the most beautiful I have ever encountered, so make the most of it!

 

Have you travelled to India before?  Did any of these things happen to you?  I would love to know below.

 

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23 Comments

  1. September 14, 2016 / 9:15 pm

    I agree but at some point I dont…India is a land of various culture, people and traditions which makes it difficult for the visitors to soak into it. Lots of things needs to be done or taken care of where we lack…but we believe we will achieve it and make it a preferred destination. But there is no other country where you can find people with smile, warm hospitality, chai at Rs 5, and lots of love, colours, festivals.

  2. kallsypage
    September 17, 2016 / 5:18 pm

    Laughed quite a few times reading this post! I’ve had the same “problem” whenever I was in other countries with my blonde hair and fair skin. So true about the transportation system too!

  3. September 17, 2016 / 5:53 pm

    I’ve been warned about this things when visiting India before but like you, I don’t think it’ll ever stop me. I’m excited to go!

  4. September 17, 2016 / 6:14 pm

    I was just reading about the Char Dham pilgrimage in India where you travel to the four corners of India on a spiritual quest and cultural odyssey. India is so foreign and exotic I don’t know where to start. Your 10 things list gives me a good guidebook for my journey.

  5. September 17, 2016 / 6:33 pm

    India, wow, this country has been on my bucket list for a long time but still think I am not ready to go yet. I know that celebrity feeling from travelling South America, and while it was charming at the beginning I was so close to dying my hair brown and wearing a scarf around my head all the time.. haha what an idea about starting to charge for photos!!

  6. September 18, 2016 / 1:21 am

    You will lose your patience and want to hide in your hotel. Thanks for saying that. That is exactly what I envision when some friends tell me about their trips to India. I’m curious and there are some sights I’d like to see, but I don’t honestly know I have the patience to deal with it. I think natural sights or attractions in India are probably more for me.

  7. September 18, 2016 / 6:12 pm

    I’ve never travelled to India before but some of these things you listed applied to me when I visited the Philippines early this year. I did lose my patience more than once and I almost got scammed, good thing I caught on lol and I was an early riser almost every day I was there.

  8. September 18, 2016 / 11:46 pm

    This was such an accurate post. I could relate to every single thing you said! I think your advice to not plan every detail of your trip and also to take interactions with sellers or beggars in stride is very good. Those situations where you feel hassled can definitely wear on you over time, so it’s good to try and make light of the situation to lift everyone’s mood.

  9. September 19, 2016 / 12:20 pm

    I’ve never been to India but reading blog posts like this one makes me want to go there and explore. I hosted a lovely man from Mumbai once in Krakow and he keeps telling me it’s now my turn to come and visit. Maybe it really is time to do it.

  10. September 19, 2016 / 3:08 pm

    Ha this is great. India is a place I would love to visit. Hopefully sooner than later.

  11. September 20, 2016 / 1:17 am

    Hi Anita,

    Love all the things. You may get a bit sick too 😉

    Delhi Belly, or in my case, giardia. I waited too long to visit the hospital and fell dangerously ill but I really did love Southern India and all it offers. Be patient, enjoy stepping back in time and feel grateful for the authentic, charming Indian people and their country.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

  12. September 23, 2016 / 5:00 pm

    You have hit all the right notes, and I will add one more. Colors all around you. Whether it’s clothes, paintings, graffiti on the walls and food items, you will not find so many different and vibrant shades of colours any where else in daily life. Isn’t it ?

    And last but not the least, a trip to India make people believe in God for sure 🙂 with so many people on the road and so many vehicles coming from all the direction, still system work, and you will wonder, how ?

  13. September 25, 2016 / 3:56 am

    The hotel manager stalked you.That is aweful! I am glad you changed hostel!

  14. September 25, 2016 / 4:52 am

    Agree on all the points except early morning riser. Within two months I so got used to noise everywhere that I was quite often oversleeping morning alarm, thus at times was late to the office (haha). Thank you for sharing!

  15. September 26, 2016 / 12:48 am

    Ha Ha Ha! I agree with all of it. Even being an Indian, I too get scammed once in while. It makes me wonder if this is why Yoga-meditation was founded here in India? Hope you enjoyed your trip to India? Oh! Wait. Another thing you want to be aware of, if you are traveling with little fair children. They will have their chins shaken and cheeks pinched/pulled all the time! We so love to pull the plump cheeks 🙂 🙂

  16. thewordhermit
    September 26, 2016 / 4:00 am

    Aside from craving chai, I bet that these could be said about visiting lots of foreign countries. I love eating ethnic food when I’m in the US, but then when I travel, I only want western food. Why is that? Great post.

  17. September 26, 2016 / 4:40 am

    India is on my travel list for sure. The cultural and sensory experience have to be amazing. I’m so curious now to taste real chai…I’ve been lucky to teach at a school with a large Indian population and always had the moms cooking delicious Indian food. Never any chai though! Great advice on handling situations where you might feel hassled.

  18. September 27, 2016 / 3:25 am

    You found the great way to deal with all the issues. Oh I can imagine how other international dishes would be in India :). I would like to go to India, but I prefer to be ready for that. I am not ready right now to deal with the noises and the dirts and some other issues. But I am sure I will be ready and go there one day. I will keep in mind your recommendations too.

  19. September 27, 2016 / 5:54 am

    India is a great country and if travelled with a pre-planned itinerary, your travel will always be great. I do agree that due to traffic and population, there are some problems, but you will not find such a diverse culture, brotherhood, personal touch anywhere.

  20. September 27, 2016 / 9:56 pm

    Everyone has their share of disappointments when visiting new countries. The key for a happy India visit is to keep expectations realistic and focus on the positives that India has to offer. Glorious heritage, huge variety of changing landscapes, warm hospitable people and a flexible lifestyle. Travellers who stop comparing the India experience with other countries, fall in love with it.

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