As someone who is from Delhi, but doesn’t live in India anymore I often get people asking me what they should know before jetting off to India, especially Delhi. There are a bunch of things that come to mind. I thought this would make the perfect post to write about.
- “Delhi Belly” isn’t a myth. Be very mindful of what you eat- especially of street food. Delhi’s the city known for it’s amazing street food and “chaats”. But not all of it will agree with your stomach as it might not be prepared in the most hygienic of ways. As much as you can, drink bottled water and avoid tap water. I’ve never had tap water in India- we have a water purification filter in the apartment in Delhi. One thing people often forget about is ice. Avoid ice in any drinks.
- Dress modestly. I’m not saying cover up completely- but just make sure the tops aren’t too deep from the front. It’s not just about disrespecting the culture- but since you might be actually going to touristy places- it might attract some unwanted attention.
- Etiquette in holy places- India, in a larger prospect, is a land of several religions. And a lot of sight seeing in Delhi will have you in temples, gurudwaras, mosques. There are little things that you should know- for example, don’t wear chappals in the temple, cover your head in Gurudwaras and mosques. Be mindful and respect the place’s customs.
- Bargain your way! Whether it’s taking a rickshaw to a local market or buying those colourful bags at Connaught Place- get ready to bargain! Especially the second they realize you’re a foreigner- their prices will hike. Sometimes you’ve to literally bargain 70% lower of the rate they’re saying and even then you might be over-paying!
- Carry toilet paper. Most public washrooms will not have toilet paper- they will have a faucet.
- Avoid public displays of affection. India might have been the country the kama sutra originated from- but it’s certainly not the place that takes PDA very nicely.
- Especially in Delhi, avoid going to shady areas at night- and if you can avoid it, be in your room latest by 10pm. It’s just about being safe.
- As much as it hurts to say, there is a lot of poverty in India and so, there are a lot of people begging on the streets in India. And if they see a foreigner, they get more clingy and ask for money. Avoid it- do not give the kids or adults any money. I always carry little sweeties in my bag for this reason in Delhi. Especially, because then at least the kids will directly get something!
- Don’t be stupid and believe everything about India from the Hollywood movies you saw. Delhi has all the modern facilities available- and you’ll find that a lot of people can speak English- even if broken.