India is one of the most magnificent countries I have ever visited. Walking through Indian streets you are greeted by colourful clothes; bright green and yellow tuk-tuks; cows aimlessly wandering, and strong smells of incense and spices. It is a journey you will hold with you for the rest of your life! However, there are a few things to be weary of in order to maximise your magical Indian experience.
1) Do not hold bananas where there are monkeys
As we walked in Hauz Khas, New Delhi, I noticed that not only were we the only westerners, we were also the only people holding bananas…big mistake. Once I spotted the monkeys’ eyes following us I threw mine into the closest bin. Before I could warn the rest of my family, a huge baboon followed by a smaller monkey leapt in front of my mother. She immediately threw her banana to the baboon. Upset that he didn’t get it, the smaller monkey bit her on the leg!
Monkey bites are serious business in India due to the risk of catching rabies. Even after having all the rabies jabs prior to your visit, you still need to go into hospital to get further injections if you are bitten. The injections you will have had before your trip only delay the spreading of rabies. We immediately went to the nearest hospital, and thankfully my mother was fine. However, this wouldn’t have happened if we just ate our bananas inside!
2) Arrange the tuk-tuk price before you get in
Tuk-tuk drivers love tourists as local prices are a mystery to them. If you get into a taxi or tuk-tuk without agreeing on a set price, you may well be spending a lot more money for your journey than you bargained for! Always be sure to agree a set price before you get in. If you are unsure what a fair price is, don’t be afraid of asking locals around you. In my experience they are always willing to help.
3) Always barter the cost of unpriced shop items down to at least half the starting price
A few times I noticed that if I bought something for say 100 rupees, I would also see the same thing being bought by a local for 50 rupees not long after! If you are a western tourist in India, and do not barter prices, be prepared to pay more than double the price that locals pay. Bartering is a part of the shopping culture, and the first step to getting yourself a fair price is to initially barter the item for half of the starting price. Show you aren’t an ignorant tourist and get stuck into negotiations!
4) Be wary of wearing sunglasses
It’s not just bananas – monkeys also love stealing sunglasses and hats from people’s heads! Once when walking down an alley, a particularly playful monkey jumped out and cheekily plucked my dad’s sunglasses from his head! If you wish to keep those sunnys you bought for your holiday travels, then I suggest you be careful where you actually wear them on holiday (or at least keep them in your bag around monkeys anyway)!
5) Eat vegetarian food
One of the things I enjoyed the most about India is the food. The large amount of flavours, smells and spices always got my taste buds tingling! Due to a large Hindu population the majority of Indian menus are vegetarian. If you wish to avoid the infamous Delhi belly at all costs, stay away from meat dishes as these are more likely to upset your stomach. Take your chance to experience real authentic vegetarian Indian food! From taka dahl, roties, japaties, mutter paneer to aloo paratha, (be careful not to google these when you’re hungry!) there’s a huge choice of foods to try in the vegetarian culture.
6) Research Indian laws and regulations
Yes this may sound like a boring one, but believe it or not each country has a whole new set of laws. Therefore it is always a good idea to do a bit of research on the laws of a country you are about to visit. To do this you can check out the FCO travel advice page on India, it will have every important bit of information covered! Check it out here: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india.
You’re ready. Go forth and have a wonderful experience in on you Indian travels!