How to survive India

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When I was planning my first trip to India – about 2 years ago – I had to go to the hospital in the Netherlands to get vaccinated. The nurse gave me a flyer with a general warning what to do and -especially- what not to do in India. I summarised the 4 pages in the steps below:

1. Exit the plain

2. Grab your luggage and get a cab!

3. go to your hotel and don’t leave the room till the day your return flight is due.

For the journey home the same steps apply – but in reversed order.

Once I reached my destination in India and while trying to open the door of my room I managed to cut my hand badly. To make matters worse – there was a dog around and against all advise I cuddled a bit with the dog. I believed my faith was sealed. In the panic attack which followed I was convinced that I either was going to die from some terrible infection or rabies.

It turned out fine. Really! My cut healed and left a tiny scar. I cuddled with the dog (and he even licked my hand!) and I survived. I survived my first trip, and happily lived for over 1 year in India without any major injuries.

Well, to be honest, I was 1 day in hospital. But that was my own mistake. I was not keeping well and I decided that the perfect cure was a MacPaneer topped with kulfi (Indian ice-cream) and to finish it off a bit of pizza and a glass of wine. Self-medication is not my strongest point, but even that I survived. It reminds me that we actually have some kulfi in the freezer and I deserve some.

Anyway, where was I, what do I carry with me on a daily basis to be prepared (for everything!) in India.

1. Make sure you carry water! Always. Not everywhere in India is clean drinking water available and drinking water from the tap is only for the experienced and risk-takers (I am not one of them!). Besides, you never know how long it will take to reach anywhere! Traffic is awful and the worst is getting stuck in the blazing sun and having NO water!

2. A shawl or duppeta. In some occasions women need to cover their head as a form of respect. When visiting a temple or meeting elders for example. Another good use of the scarf is to cover your mouth and nose when hitting the roads in India. It helps you from inhaling to much exhaust, and depending on how you tie it, it can keep your hair in shape.

3. In India it is a custom to eat with your hands – I love eating with my hands! But after being out and about for some time and yes feeding that one very hungry dog (I know I did) so you better wash your hands before digging in your plate! Washing your hands is a MUST. Not all restaurants have a (clean) restroom available. That is why I always make sure to take a small bottle of handwash with me.

4. A small pack of biscuits or some other treat I can give away. It is amazing how you can brighten a child’s face when giving them a treat!

5. I make sure that I always carry my address with me. When I need to take a cab or riksha I want to make sure that I know where I want to go and that I can show the driver.

Is there something you cannot go without when travelling in India?

 



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