India is such a unique country rich in culture and traditions. With its beautiful architecture and majestic mountains, it’s almost like somewhere from another world.
So when I had the chance to visit India this year, I jumped at the opportunity as it’s somewhere completely different to anywhere I’d travelled before.
And after being here for less than a week, I have to say that this is one of the craziest countries I’ve ever been to.
This article ISN’T going to tell you about all of the wonderful places to see and things to do in India but simply give you an honest opinion of what I think after being here for a week.
If you’re planning to visit India anytime in the future, this article will show you a side of India that is a lot less talked about.
Delhi Is Chaos
As many other travellers do, we flew into New Delhi Airport as our first stop in India.
With over 18.6 million people in this city, it’s no surprise that Delhi is complete chaos.
Here’s the thing though, you’re told that it is busy, but you can never really prepare yourself for how chaotic it actually is.
As soon as the airport doors open to the outside world, you can hear a loud sound of people talking and shouting.
That sound doesn’t go away the whole time you’re in Delhi!
Once you calm down a little and get used to the 45 degree celsius heat, it’s time to take a Taxi to your hotel.
This is your introduction to the crazy driving and unorganised roads that India has to offer.
All of the cars, motorbikes, bicycles, buses and trucks drive around playing chicken with each other.
Who’s going to be the first one to give way before hitting another vehicle…which happens very frequently.
But it’s not only the vehicles and pedestrians on the road that you have to watch out for…
There Are Animals Everywhere
As many people already know, India is home to many exotic creatures such as tigers, elephants, snow leopards and more.
But it isn’t these exotic and endangered animals that are everywhere you need to worry about.
It’s the cows!
As you might know, cows are considered sacred animals to the Hindu people of India which means that it’s forbidden to kill them and eat them.
This in turn means there are hundreds of cows roaming the streets, eating rubbish out of the bins, eating freshly made roti’s that the locals give them…
And lying down for a nap anywhere they want…even in the middle of the road.
But cows aren’t the only animals that roam the streets.
You won’t see a shortage of monkeys, pigs, goats, dogs, camels or elephants.
While elephants and camels are usually used for transporting people, it’s a strange experience seeing these enormous animals walking around the chaotic streets with such an abundance of people and vehicles.
Some of these animals live in better conditions than some people.
People Are Living In Garbage Dumps
One of the most humbling experiences of my life was visiting the slums of New Delhi.
We saw hundreds of people making houses with garbage from the garbage piles that they’re living amongst.
Kids were licking old packets of chips just to get a different flavour in their mouths.
While the conditions that they’re living in are horrendous, almost all of them had huge smiles on their faces and were making the most out of their unfortunate situation.
A big problem in India is that the poverty line is so low. Unless you’re below the poverty line, the government doesn’t do much (if anything) to help these people.
And the problem with this is the poverty line is only 32 rupees / 47 cents usd per day.
Because the poverty line is so low, no one is receiving much help from the government and the situation isn’t improving.
One of the strange things about the slums is that they’re located right next to the rich areas.
The slums naturally form next to the richer areas because those that live in the slums usually work for the richer people as housekeepers, cooks etc.
Everyone Is Trying To Scam You
Of all the countries I’ve lived in and travelled to over the past 10 years, I’ve never had so many people trying to scam me.
While not everyone is trying to scam you, you definitely need to be careful.
Here are the Most Common Scams that happened to me in India that you should be aware of:
- Locals making friendly conversation with you as they swipe your pockets for any valuables
- Locals racing towards you asking for a photo with you. As they take the photo someone is feeling your pockets for valuables and looking through your backpack
- Restaurants adding extra charges to your bill, hoping you won’t notice
- Restaurants giving you incorrect change hoping you won’t check
- Tour Guides taking their friends along the tour with them so that YOU pay for their dinner. “Everything is split evenly” but you end up paying double what you normally would pay for dinner
- Taxi drivers saying that your hotel “doesn’t exist, is shut down or is in a dangerous area” and then taking you to a fake tourism office where they try and book you an overpriced hotel.
With all of that being said, most of the people are extremely friendly and accommodating.
You just have to always be aware that there are people who are looking to make money off you or rip you off.
Food Is Delicious And Cheap
Obviously, I don’t need to say much about how great Indian food is.
You can get a meal for as cheap as 40 rupees that will not only fill you up but tastes delicious.
I found that the best value for money were the Thali’s. With these you got 2-3 different curries, rice, vegetables and some bread (roti, naan or chapati).
Negotiations Can Get Heated
Before arriving in India, it’s a good idea to practice your negotiation skills. The Indian people pride themselves on how good they are at negotiating.
Generally, you can always get something for half of what the starting price is.
However, you should be aware that some negotiations can get very heated.
You always need to stay calm!
Once a price is agreed upon and a deal is made, everything is fine and everyone is friendly and happy again.
Word of warning: Don’t ever negotiate to a price and then back out of the deal. This is considered extremely rude.
There Are Different Classes Of People
What came as a big surprise to me when I arrived in India were how the different classes of people were treated
Much like in the ‘olden days’ in the Western world, many Indian people will treat others based on their class.
For example, if someone was a cleaner, or waiter or their father was, they would be talked down to and not treated with respect from those of a higher social class.
Furthermore, some parents won’t let their children marry someone if they aren’t in the same class as them.
The younger generations have a more progressive mindset and don’t care so much about class and social standing, but it is still something that I saw first hand in only a week in India.
You Never Know When You'll Be The Centre Of A Party
While trying to escape some of the chaos in Delhi, we decided to stop by the pub and have a quiet drink.
But it seems, even indoors you can’t escape the craziness of Delhi.
As we were ordering our second round of drinks, we were invited to the main bar where a group of Iocals were standing around in a circle.
At the centre of the circle was 3 huge cakes, 8 bottles of Dom Perignon and an alcohol that was getting lit on fire.
We’d somehow stumbled into the centre of an Indian birthday party.
As the alcohol was lit on fire and poured down our throats, we started dancing around in a group of complete strangers.
Before we knew it, we were chugging down Dom Perignon from the bottle (literally) in front of this big group of people who had no idea who we were but were cheering along anyway.
I’m sure they’re looking back on that night and wondering who those 2 white foreigners were who stumbled into the middle of their party.
These are my first impressions of India after being here for just 1 week.
You can probably agree with me by now that India in an absolutely crazy place.
The funny thing is, even though I was getting scammed constantly, the streets were dirty and the roads were crazy, it was one of the most exciting and interesting weeks I’ve had travelling the world.
India is something special and you really can’t understand it until you come here for yourself.
I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next 2 months travelling through India.
Have you travelled to India before. What were your impressions? Did you see anything crazy?
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