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starlagurl
http://www.venere.com/blog/surviving-india/

India is quite different from the Western world, so brush up with these tips before you go:
Do you agree with them? Have you been to India? What got you through the culture shock?

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Clothing

India is a hot country for the most part, except during the time from November to January when some parts of the country, particularly the North, experience chilly winters. Women should avoid long, flowing dresses that can drag on the ground Ė the roads leave a lot to be desired Ė and too skimpy attire. Indian women are modest in their clothing, and your Daisy Dukes and a Tee combo will elicit more stares than you need.

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Packing

Bring most of your personal products, and other essentials. Most international brands are now available in India, but you might find your neighborhood supermarket doesnít store the brand you use. Ditto for medication and first aid supplies. Pack plenty of incest repellent and sun block Ė most of the touristy areas are unbearably hot.

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Food and Drink

Always drink only bottled water, and stock your bag with a few extra bottles when youíre out for the day sightseeing, or heading to a remote village. If youíre in a large group or intend to stay in a place for a while, buy larger 10,15, or 20 liter canisters, and refill your bottles as you go along.

Avoid fresh fruit juices from roadside eateries. In fact, avoid roadside stalls altogether. The taste may be divine, and the flavors mouthwatering, but unfortunately, the hygiene and sanitary conditions take a hit. Stick to high quality restaurants. I donít mean you should eat only in five star joints, but reasonably high quality places that arenít teeming with flies and have a clean look about the surroundings, should do fine.

Avoid salads, and fresh fruit thatís been pre cut. Avoid Western food in a restaurant that serves mainly Indian food Ė chances are the food might not be as fresh, because itís not as popular with the locals. If you want a taste of home, head to a five star hotel or any one of the pizza and fast food joints cropping up all over the country.

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Beggars

If thereís one thing that will jump out at you the moment you land in one of the metro cities, itís the beggars. Most beggars here are professionals, and belong to a beggar mafia. Those horrible disfigurements and amputated limbs? Chances are high that those were actually done on purpose, so the beggar could garner more loose change. Ignore them, or handover a single rupee if you have to; not more. Be generous, and you risk having an entire gaggle of beggars surrounding you, clamoring for more!
bloomer
Water: Bring a .05 micron or less water filter. Water that has been boiled is safe--chai is always safe.
Roadside dhabas and sidewalk stalls are many times the safest place to eat, they make the food fresh every day, every meal, and don't let the masala sit around growing bacteria. Also you would miss one of the best things in the world--sweet Lassi made from fresh curds on the street. Lassi also is full of probiotics endemic to the region, and helps with the adjustment of the digestive system.
Don't eat meat--ever, anywhere in India.

Many beggars are organized into families and associations, but not all. Many have also been disfigured in work or auto accidents. Only give to those you feel called to give to, and watch the locals, as they will give to those they know to be truly in need. Children are always affiliated with a begging "gang" or family.
A "baba" who asks for money is not a real Baba. If a baba holds his hand out, he ain't real. A real baba may just sit near you, or even give you a prayer or blessing, and if he doesn't ask for anything, he deserves a little bit, a few rupees, not generally over ten. A bit of food is even better. You can really meet some interesting people, but use your head and watch what others do.

Clothing: men, do not show shoulders or bare legs, though there are numerous exceptions.
Women, no bare arms or legs, and dressing native has the advantage of lessening the hawkers in tourist areas.

Best advice--go where western tourists do not go, and avoid all the pitfalls designed for tourists to fall into. Follow your nose, and talk to as many locals as you can. Wear a smile as you do it. Shop around if you are shopping, and even then, never never shop in a place in which westerners frequently go.
Learn to speak some hindi, even a little, or if you're going to the south, Tamil. or both, or some Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, or any one of the numerous languages in the country. Even just greeting someone in native tongue will get you farther.
Do not ever wear "fisherman pants," or any of the "indian" clothes marketed to tourists. You will stick out like a sore thumb. Observe what Indians wear, and suit your own taste with the style.
Never do any kind of business with a Kashmiri.

You need not isolate yourself and hide behind a crowd of other travelers. Put your toe in the water, and when ready, dive straight in! You'll be glad you did.
As far as personal products--(there's a freudian typo in the above post). . ahem. . . "insect" repellent is good to bring, and sunscreen or block as well. If you simply just have to have your own brand of shampoo or soap, you're probably going to the wrong country anyway. Remember too that biting little nasties just love perfumed people who use western soap and shampoo. For women, bring your own embarassing feminine products, as they probably will not be available at all.
Cold showers, while being the norm at many guest houses, also serve as a nice cool down in a hot region! They also cure hangovers. Try not to be too squeaky clean by using soap every time, and you will be bothered less by insects.

starlagurl
Ohhhh Josh I knew you would have something interesting to say.
I lovvvvvvvvvve lassi... you make India sound better and better.

What's a baba? Some sort of holy man?

Haha! My friend wears those fisherman pants allllllllll the time. She's never been to India, but like, everywhere else in the freaking world. That's hilarious.

I totally know what you mean about the insects. I was just ATTACKED when I was up north in the Yukon after I washed my hair with smelly shampoo.
bloomer
Yep, save those fisherman pants for home!

A baba is a holy dude, lives from what he is given, and doesn't ask for anything. If he says a prayer for you, if you haven't given, it may be a prayer for you to find more compassion in your heart. . .
starlagurl
That's neat. How does one become a holy man? How does he know he is holy?
bloomer
We are all holy, some of us just don't know it. . .

Baba should be wise and devout though. .
starlagurl
That's what I mean, how does he know he is wise enough?
bloomer
Not sure what kind of background he must have. Maybe there's a baba university somewhere. . . .
It's worth a research. . .
bloomer
Something along these lines:

My Webpage
starlagurl
So...no...you don't need any real "credentials" as I suspected...to be a guru anyway.

In Western usage, the meaning of guru has been extended to cover anyone who acquires followers, though not necessarily in an established school of philosophy or religion.[citation needed] In a further Western metaphorical extension, guru is used to refer to a person who has authority because of his or her perceived secular knowledge or skills.
bipodx
its not a matter of how wise ur? its all about what u choose, some baba's were became baba because they don't want to do anything (even this is a very BIIIIIIIIIG business in india. u can find some high class baba's, some are very popular in west also, u must have heard abt them when they visit ur country also and even ppl are crazy abt those baba's BUT they are nothing morethan GOOD SPOKSMEN.they can impress anyone with their words, personality, spl to westren ppl, cause u dont know anything abt them........) some baba's CHOOSE to become baba because, they are very close to GOD. they know LIFE is FALSE and DEATH is TRUE. so they became baba in order to leave the sosiety and pray for god all the time, day/night..............................they feel god has given this life for prayers for the god, so they do prayrs all their life. this is very difficult to understand and even very easy to understand..... like some time u feel to eat Macdonals' burger and u go to Mc and eat it and feel satisfy,.............. same baba feel to pray for god ALL time and they do it.


......................sunny


QUOTE(starlagurl @ Jun 4 2008, 09:25 AM) *

That's what I mean, how does he know he is wise enough?

starlagurl
Very interesting...so basically... SOME of them are just really charismatic people who don't have any initiative to do anything else but talk to people who adore them...

The others are... mystics?
jamesandrew408
Looking for a unique and magnetic holiday destination! Get ready for a lifelong experience by planning for Indian Holidays India is known for vast cultural heritage and tradition. It is a place of splendid colors, which is bustling with exotic cultural riches.
johnminasia
QUOTE(bloomer @ Jun 3 2008, 10:35 AM) *

Yep, save those fisherman pants for home!

A baba is a holy dude, lives from what he is given, and doesn't ask for anything. If he says a prayer for you, if you haven't given, it may be a prayer for you to find more compassion in your heart. . .


Doesent baba also refer to young boys? When I was in India most people would shout baba come here or baba ...
johnminasia
When as at the train station in Pune, I noticed many of those baba or guru surrounded me and attempted to put yellow powder on my forehead. Do not let them as after they did they asked for money, that which I did not have at the moment. The man seemed quite angry with me , possibly might of offended him.
starlagurl
Yeah, I think that's a common trick around the world. In the Caribbean/Mexico they tie a bracelet on your wrist, say "Welcome to ___" and then ask for money. You can't take it off, so you feel bad and give it to them.
bipodx
Yes they are! but the prob. is we don't know who is the real one and whos not................. some time the real one come and ask for money and if you give money they pray for you to the god.................and the best you can do (if u dont wanna give money) is u can ask him/her to have chai or lunch instead of money....................

QUOTE(starlagurl @ Aug 19 2008, 10:13 AM) *

Very interesting...so basically... SOME of them are just really charismatic people who don't have any initiative to do anything else but talk to people who adore them...

The others are... mystics?

starlagurl
Hmmm, tough call, what do you do when you encounter someone like that?
bipodx
I dont give money to anyone at all, but ask them to eat anything food /drink and then i pay money to the hotel vender. and i pray myself, as i don't need any midleman, 'cause god hear all us.


QUOTE(starlagurl @ Aug 28 2008, 05:01 PM) *

Hmmm, tough call, what do you do when you encounter someone like that?

starlagurl
Yeah, that's probably the best idea of how to deal with them.

And of course I agree with you on the praying thing as well.
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