A trip to India is an experience of a lifetime. It is a sensory explosion of myriad new sights, sounds, colours and smells, something that you have never seen before. No amount of planning can actually prepare you for the romantic, majestic, exhilarating, exuberant melange of affairs that this country offers and like every place if you want to make the most out of your trip, it is essential that you don’t visit it like a tourist and instead travel like a local. Here are some tips on how to embrace the local culture and get the most out of your experience.
Be respectful towards the local culture
India has a rich heritage and culture with its own social protocols and norms, which might not be very congruent with the cultural norms of your homeland. It is important to understand and respect that. It is not often that common to greet people especially women with body contact so instead you might just choose to fold your hands as a greeting or go with a simple hello.
Shoes off the feet
Shoes are considered unhygienic as they carry all the dust, dirt and bacteria from outside and thus, Indians usually keep their shoes off the bed and furniture. If you are in the habit of wearing your shoes to bed or on the couch, it is best to take them off. In most Indian households it is customary to take off their shoes before you enter the house. When in doubt, as the hosts. At most places of worship, especially temples, shoes are strictly forbidden and thus it is a good idea to ask. When it doubt, take it off!
Go for transport
If you want to see the place thoroughly, like a local, take local transport. Not only will you see so much of the local cities and towns, public transport is also dirtcheap. In most Indian cities people are extremely helpful so just ask the next person you see for the directions. If you are not comfortable with English or a local language, you can always make use of your phone’s map app for directions around the place.
Understanding communication gap
India does not have a unified culture or language and hence, a stereotypical Namaste might not be a greeting of choice for half the Indian population. While it has dozens of local languages English is commonly spoken throughout the country and some people are as proficient as a native English speaker so communication is not always an issue. If you do not speak English or a local language, it is possible to communicate using simple pictures, translation app and body language.
From extremes of cold to extremes of heat, India has it all. So, check the weather on a number of weather apps and pack according to the weather. Pack a high SPF sunscreen for hot areas, stay hydrated and try to wear comfortable covered clothes to prevent sunburn.
Before you set off for this beautiful country, make sure you have all your documents, tickets, passport and visa inde handy for your trip. Don’t forget to pack some first aid and comfortable walking shoes to explore. Climate differences can cause stomach problems so to stick to bottled water exclusively.