First trip to India is one of the most awaited journeys for most of the travelers. There is something magical about India. Country of colors, diversity, incredible nature, spices, traffic, sarees, bollywood, yoga… and many many more. No matter how different it is, no matter how challenging it might be, you miss it as soon as you board your return plane.
How to prepare best for the first trip? What should one know before reaching incredible India? Discover India from A to Z to set your future travel readiness! “You’re off to great places!”
My first trip
My first trip to India happened back in 2009. Already 11 years ago! My current stay is my 13th travel to, in Hindi, Bharat! Incredible. Travelling to India, prior to 2009, was always like a dream journey for me. I would never imagine that I would visit Hindustan so many times, not to mention living here! (remember the post about our Polish-Indian story?)
In 2009 I visited India twice, first in February and then in October, both business trips. That’s one of many great benefits that big corporations can offer: travel! For me – irreplaceable advantage. During first travel I visited only Bangalore. Yet, it was plenty of new learning and amazing experience! When flying back home, I knew that I would return to explore India more. Back then I had zero thoughts that I would return 12 times and I would stay here for longer, really longer!
Second visit to India brought me to Bangalore, Mysore and fantastic Goa! Yes, if you are in India…. its a must see!
My visit to India was my first travel to Asia. I was already very familiar with China and Chinese culture (as my family had many friends from China), however actual visit to Asia was such a new experience. If you are considering a visit here, don’t think twice. Just wait for the travels to re-start globally! In the meantime, start learning and exploring offline so you can enjoy it to the fullest! Travel to India can be life changing one…
There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won’t go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colors, smells, tastes, and sounds. It was as if all my life I had been seeing the world in black and white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolor.Keith Bellows (Editor-in-chief, National Geographic Society)
from a to z
Get ready for your first or another trip to India! This isn’t a standard guide book but practical tips sharing for visiting India. India is so vast and incredible that even A to Z won’t cover all that can be discovered in this country. So key highlights, useful, interesting and a bit funny too! Enjoy and see you soon!
Country of apps! I have discovered it only during my visits here: India is a real country of apps. If you are planning to travel on your own here, make sure you have a bit of space left on your phone. You might end up downloading some additional apps! From Uber, Ola (cabs company), Swiggy (online food ordering from restaurants) to Licious (fresh non-veg food ordering with 2 hours delivery), BigBasket (online grocery store), Dunzo (delivery service in the city) or Gaana (music streaming service). These are just basic ones!
Do you want to master your negotiation skills? Forget workshops or additional studies in the subject, instead – visit India! You can bargain or in more ‘modern way’ ask for a discount everywhere. Street stalls, shops, pharmacy. The place that surprised me the most to negotiate price: petrol station in Goa! (guess, possible just there!) We got a bit of petrol for free!
India is a huge country so the climate will mainly depend on two factors: location and season. Most of the country is the sub tropical zone with hot summers, mild winters and humid rainy season. However, don’t forget Himalayas region in the north – full of snow! If you plan to travel across the country – just cross check your locations. For example, living in Bangalore – I don’t need long sleeves at all, even if people wear here warm jackets in ‘winter’ months.
D: DISPLAY OF AFFECTION
While travelling it is important to respect the places that we are visiting. Just consider it for public display of affection in India. While holding hands is absolutely fine, hugging or kissing shouldn’t be done in public. As per local law it is a criminal offence with a punishment of imprisonment up to 3 months or a fine, or both. Let’s appreciate cultural difference and respect them.
E: ETHNIC WEAR
Do you love all Indian ethnic wear from Bollywood movies and planning to do some shopping during your journey? Great idea! Just familiarize yourself first with all the names, might be very useful! From saree (most common women garment), kurta (loose shirt for men), lehenga choli (skirt and blouse), salwaar kameez (loose shirt for ladies), to churidaar (tight trousers), pyjama (a bit more loose trousers) or dhoti (type of sarong for men that resembles trouser), and that’s not the end of the list!
India is a food paradise, just be aware it is a spicy paradise! 😀 Unlimited selections of vegetarian dishes, super yummy non veg food, great choice of Asian restaurants (my favorite one Burma Burma). Just remember that ‘spicy’ or ‘chili’ have a different dimension here. So if you are coming from Europe, ask first for ‘zero spice’ food. Later you can enjoy adding more and more spice to your food. Whenever I ask for ‘less spice’ it does not work for me – too spicy to eat! One more tip: most of fresh fruit juices are served with sugar! So it makes it two rules for me: ‘zero spice’ and ‘zero sugar’ please.
Considering Goa during your travel to India? Just go for it, no need to think twice! Or better google “Goa images” – it will convince you! I visited Goa twice and loved it. My recommendation is south Goa versus north part. It is less crowded and more quiet. What can be found in Goa: very affordable prices (Goa is cheaper than most of the country) amazing beaches, super yummy seafood, coconut trees and architecture influenced by Portuguese style. Go Goa!
Although Hindi is the most spoken language of India, there are all together 23 official languages: 22 deriving from India plus English. So don’t take for granted that all people talk Hindi. Usually each region has its own language. We live in Karnataka and often feel like foreigners here as we do not talk the official language here: Kannada. Latest statistics say that more than 20% of people speak English so it helps a lot, however don’t worry – nearly everyone knows basic English!
India’s 2020 population is estimated at 1,380,004,385 people. That’s nearly 2 times entire Europe, more than 3 times the continent of South America or more than 4 times US! And there are at least 46 million-plus cities in the country. There are also more than 9 religion that people believe in, this enriches also country’s architecture: from temples, churches to mosques. Truly diverse and incredible country.
With so high population, especially in the cities, you can’t expect no traffic! I am sure that after visiting India your traffic definition will change. It did for me. Cities can be truly jammed, in fact Bangalore where we live has the highest traffic density in the world! Over the course of 2019, on average, congestion of Bangalore increased driving time by 71%. A regular 30 min drive turns here into 1 hour and 5 min trip. Worth the experience! And once back home, you will start to appreciate your ‘traffic’!
K: क्रिकेट – CRICKET!
‘National’ sport of India: cricket! It is difficult to find someone here who would not love cricket! People play cricket everywhere: sport fields, streets, at home 😮 So if you have a chance, jump and join people playing, no one will say no! Just don’t remind My Better Half the ‘famous’ semi-final game India vs New Zealand in 2019 World Cup. We watched it in hospital, just 2 days after Our Little One‘s birth. My Better Half didn’t know if to smile or cry…
Regional differences in India are very visible for many aspects, including garbage processing. Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Sikkim, and Goa states are the cleanest. In the remaining parts of the country you will find a lot of garbage by the streets. I know that initial sights of it might be very disturbing, I try to ignore where possible. Respective states are still trying to fix this problem.
TO BE CONTINUED
Eager to know more? Don’t worry, 14 more letters are still ahead of us! Wait for the next week post to learn more about incredible India. In the meantime, can you guess which words will stand for the next letters in the alphabet to describe India? M… N… O…
[India is] the One land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.Mark Twain
Have you visited India already? If yes: which one suggestion would you give to India’s new travelers? If not yet: which tip did you find most useful in this post?
Moments that matter, no matter where in India.