The ideal image of India, which we see on postcards, is far from the real life there. The images we encounter when we first meet India can be extremely shocking. Some people fell in love with this up-side world, some hate it and some even change because of it… No matter how well traveled you are, India truly is a completely different country you have ever visited.
13 things which make India so incredible
1. Indescribably crowded
I have traveled a lot, but I did never ever see such crowded places like in India.
2. Numerous homeless people
Traveling around India is not easy also because of many homeless people –from adults to kids. Lots of people are handicapped and many were not born like it, as they were injured just to get more money from begging on the streets. Knowing you cannot help them all, but seeing them everywhere, makes traveling around India a real challenge.
3. Constantly stared at
India is a well visited touristic country, but be prepared to be stared at. You might feel like fallen from Mars. People will not only stare at you, but they will also show you to others… Wait a minute or two and the whole platform will stare at you like seeing a non-Indian for the very first time.
4. Filth everywhere
You will find dirt in India everywhere. I don’t mean few chocolate wraps, but huge piles of garbage.
5. Urine and excrement in the street
Cities and towns have bad sewage system – lots of it is not even closed. It is not strange if you will see people peeing and pooping in the street, just squating above the sewage canal. In villages, people retreat outside of the populated areas. If you’ll be traveling by train around India and observe the landscape early in the morning, you will see lots of people along the train tracks doing their thing.
6. Flooded public toilets
My days in India were all the same. Getting up early, had breakfast and went exploring. I was out of the hotel for the whole day and you guessed it- in the mean time, I also needed a toilet. Going to a public toilet in India is really something special and unforgettable. Before entering it, I had to roll up my trousers to walk to the flooded room. Oh and the flood did not come just from water…
7. Road chaos
You don’t know what chaos is if you have never visited India. Horning all the time, passing on a blind curve, non-compliance with regulations… Just crossing the road in India is like mission impossible. Before I got used to these kind of road chaos, a tuk-tuk driver hold my hand and helped me to cross over numerous times.
8. Packed trains
Trains in India are another story. Get ready for crowds and lack of hygiene if not traveling in the first class. But when in India, you just have to experience train travel too.
9. Death encounters
India will never stop surprising you. One of the most unique cities in India is for sure its holy city Varanasi. You will see, feel and smell death there. Burning bodies or seeing some of them floating in the Ganges River… Incredible and unforgettable for sure!
10. Wild monkeys
Monkeys do look cute, but be aware – they can be extremely dangerous, especially if you are in the middle of two packs. Be careful with your belongings too, as the monkeys like to take the shine on backpacks, food and even cameras.
11. Holy cows
Cows are holy animals in India and they can do what they please. Normally they just wander around the streets and causing traffic jams. I still vividly remember my encounter with the holy cow in Varanasi. Walking from the train station to the Ghats, I stepped into a narrow street and suddenly an ill cow stood in front of me. All I saw was her intestines, hanging out of her, all covered in blood. I could not go back, as I would easily be lost. Having my large backpack on my shoulders and a smaller one in front of me, I could hardly squeeze to pass it. To top it all off, just before I passed this enormous animal, she decided to pee. Have in mind I was wearing flip-flops… Yaycks!
12. Dollar on two legs
There is nothing worse than being treated as a rich person only because you are white and traveling. But that is exactly how it is in India.
13. Right and not left hand
Your left hand is known as unclean in India, so watch out which hand you use when eating, touching things or people.
14. Non-respect for women
Being a woman in India is not easy. Lots of Indian women are like second class citizens, with no respect and no rights. Sometimes this attitude can be seen on women travelers too. Don’t be too surprised if someone touches you. You don’t need to dress smart and sexy to get all the attention, you have never even wanted. Be prepared you will be stared at and talked to. Even if you think you have finally found a place for yourself, think again… a minute and you will have a curious Indian man sitting close by.
If you want to travel around India you will have to except all these unusual things. It will be hard, I will not lie, but that’s the way it is. India is not incredible just because of the Taj Mahal. The only advice I can give you is to accept India for what it is and not thinking too much about it. I must admit, I was even a bit happy, when my travel ended, but now, I am thinking to re-visit it again. Not sure why, but I want to go back to that chaos and to the unbelievable and different world I know. But India will definitely take a little bit of your heart – one way or another… If you will accept India for what it is, it will reveals its beautiful and mysterious side too. And that is one of the most rewarding things you can bring back home.