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12 Signs It's Your First Time in India

India Student Work
by Elen Turner Feb 22, 2016

1. You’re rocking Ali-baba pants.

Just don’t.

2. You mention that you’re an atheist.

If you want to engage in a heated debate with an offended local who has taken your admission personally, then by all means go ahead and admit that you don’t really believe in God. But India is a deeply religious country, on the whole. If you’d rather keep things civil, you might consider telling a white lie.

3. You’re flattered by the Kashmiri shawl seller’s personalized service.

You think it’s amazing when the Kashmiri peddler with a stand outside your hotel remembers every detail you told him from your brief chat the night before, and actually believe him when he tells you he’s given you a special price because you’re friends.

4. You insist that your auto/taxi driver use the meter.

And then wonder why he took you on the scenic route.

5. You don’t trust anyone.

You’ve taken all the hysterical warnings to heart and find it impossible to trust anyone. In reality, Indians are like every other nationality on earth, in that the vast majority wish you no harm and want you to have a pleasant stay in their country. Be aware of what the classic scams are. Not every shop that says ‘Official Tourist Information’ really is ‘official’, and the men outside New Delhi Railway Station who tell you that the ticket office is closed so you’ll have to buy a ticket from their shop may not have your best interest at heart. Outside of that, relax, have fun, and don’t be afraid to talk to the locals.

6. You stick to the ‘Golden Triangle’ and are surprised by how touristy India is.

Sure, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur are all stunning cities with enormous appeal, but India is much, much more than the ‘Golden Triangle.’ Most bus tours only visit these three cities — and usually on a whistle-stop itinerary — so hoards of tourists can be found there. If you want to escape the crowds and touts, then go elsewhere. The South, Bengal, Odisha, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh…

7. You didn’t get the memo about dressing modestly.

You walk around shirtless in Mumbai, or in a bikini when not in sight of the beach in Goa.

8. You ask if every meal is spicy.

And sound like a fool. Of course it is. But ‘spicy’ isn’t the same as ‘hot’.

9. You’re afraid of the street food.

Don’t be. Yes, you need to be careful—make sure the stand is busy, the food is hot, and avoid meat as much as possible — but don’t miss out entirely. In Delhi, head to the Lajpat Nagar Central Market in the evening, or Old Delhi at any time.

10. You stop in the street to pull out your map.

Big mistake. Walk confidently at all times and pretend you know where you’re going even when you don’t. If you get really lost, just ask a shop-keeper.

11. You respond to touts every time.

Either with a too-polite ‘no thank you’ or a too-forceful ‘leave me alone!’ Neither works very well, or for long. Just ignore them. Completely.

12. You wait patiently for a break in the traffic so that you can cross the road.

And wait. And wait.

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