About India

When referring to India thinking about it as a unitary state does not pay tribute to this vast country. There is no such thing as one India. India means 29 states of which many even within their border have a big variety of different cultures. India is the home to a 9 different (main) religions, to 23 languages (and those are only the recognized ones), and a big variety of different regional dances, music, foods, architecture etc. 

Despite this diversity the Indian states are united in the biggest democracy the world has seen so far. The country unites more than 1.3 billion people under one roof, 814 Million people had the right to vote at the last election – that is almost double the size of the whole European population. India also has one of the fastest growing economies worldwide, due to its big working population, the low wages, the strong legal system, the many fluent English-speakers and the recent reforms.

But India´s attraction is not only due to its human made creations, but also due to the ones created by nature. With natural monuments like the Himalaya, the Ganges, the many forests (e.g. the Shola Forest or the Bhitarkanika Mangroves), but also its deserts (e.g. the Sand Dunes of Jaisalmer) India is the country that probably has to offer the widest variety of different climate zones, and Flora and Fauna. India is after all a sub-continent! 

Without any question, going to India is an adventure. But that should not hinder you from going! We have made up ten points here, which help you to travel India.

10 things you should keep in mind when travelling to India

  1. Stable stomach – The Indian food is amazing! Every dish is prepared with so many spices that it is a taste explosion in your mouth. Unfortunately, we are not all used to this explosion in our stomach. In the beginning that can lead to some problems, but normally after some time you will get used to it. The rule of thumb applies “a curry burns twice, once you eat it and once it comes out”. So be prepared!
  2. Strong assertiveness – In India when going home to meet an Indian friend’s family means that you are going to be treated like a little king or queen. They will feed you a lot and are overwhelmingly welcoming. But don’t get confused by the rough manners when it comes to entering a train or a bus. Just like everyone else try to make your way to the crowd.

  3. Less privacy – In terms of population India is the second largest country worldwide and some parts of the country have the highest densities of population in the world. That makes privacy sometimes a rare good. Even if you manage to have a room for yourself keep in mind that the janitor or the mate could always enter to fix something or to clean up. Besides that, the high density of people as well as human curiosity makes it sometimes impossible to type a message or make a phone call in public without having several people read it or listen to it respectively. It takes some time to get used to the crowd of people in big cities but just be prepared for it, after some time you will not recognize it anymore.
  4. Eating habits – Eating with your fingers seems quite weird when being in Europe still, but once you are here, it will seem to you as the most normal thing ever. Most of the dishes are made to eat them with the hand and the taste improves tremendously. Let one of your friends in India show you the technique and you will soon become a pro. Admittedly, the first times always get a bit dirty, but you will get used to it! The best thing about it: the smell and the colour of most of the dishes will stay on your hands until long after the food!
  5. Walking on the Sideway vs. Walking on the Streets – Sidewalks in India are a suggestion and not a must. Sometimes the sidewalkesare too dirty or little huts are built on them, so often you have to walk on the streets. There is nothing to be afraid of, most of the time the drivers will look out for you. Just don’t make too sudden moves so that they can predict your way.

Some concrete, ‘materialistic’ advices

  1. Plastic bags – Especially during the rainy days, but also during the dry season, it is advisable to have some well-sealed plastic bags. You can buy them at every corner in India. They are so well made that you can use e.g. your phone without taking it out of the plastic bag. Like that you can keep your belongings from becoming wet or dusty!

  2. Sunscreen – The Indian sun can be hot and unyielding. If you have fair skin you will most probably have problems with it. The sun will burn you without you even realizing it. So don’t forget sunscreen!
  3. Earplugs – India is beautiful, but India is also loud. May it be the never ending horns of cars on the streets, the loud music in every restaurant and bar or even your neighbors enjoying their life. Be prepared – mentally and/or physically (with ear plugs)!
  4. Waterproof shoes – When the monsoon comes, rain can start within seconds and that heavily without you even having the time to take out your umbrella or raincoat. So be prepared with the right clothes. One of the things that made my life here much more comfortable are waterproof shoes – basically sandals out of a waterproofed material. Then the rain can come!
  5. Insect repellent – Mosquitos in India are small and noiseless. You will not see them or feel them, just when you got a bite it will start to itch as heck. So better safe than sorry! Use repellent. Another possibility are the Indian incense. Personally, aroma wise I am a big fan, but I imagine it is not so healthy for the lungs.