In India one never knows why or how things happen, they just do! To the intellect it may seem like a mad puzzle which doesn’t fit at all, but it is well worth the wait (experience) before you judge -there IS a certain method to this madness! And each individual must experience India at least once in the life time to realize this truth!! On the surface, the Indian sub-continent is brimming with diverse activities, a lot of apparent contradictions and divisions, yet underneath lays the calmness’s in the deepest depths of the ocean and the strength to wade through the fiercest of storms. This calmness and the resultant strength is the result of the thousands of sages, yogis, and saints that have inhabited this spiritual Motherland of humanity. Here is some good to know stuff when you travel to India.
- Traffic : India is second most populous country in this world. With 1.2 billion human beings walking this land, finding a street empty is next to impossible. With all kinds of vehicles and non-vehicles competing for space and right of the way, one may feel little disoriented initially and some may even feel like they are a part of a video game! Don’t hold your breath for too long though, Indians are adept at driving through this chaos without hitting and colliding with others, errr..well most of the time!.
- Festivals: No matter what time of the year you are travelling to India, you are bound to be in the middle of some or the other religious or cultural festivities. So research before your travel, and learn about the various festivals that may be coinciding with your travel calendar. Experience the festivities with the help of your guide/ tour operator by being a part of the local or an organised celebration.
- Cricket :Cricket is the (unofficial) national sport and a national past time for Indians. From kids playing on the streets and rooftops to professionals on the sports channels, Cricket is everywhere. Don’t be shy to stop and try your hand at it.
- Getting Stared at: This one takes a little getting used to. Most Indians (including women)have a habit of staring unconsciously at anything or anyone who looks or dresses up differently. This is especially true if you are a woman and when you are in the country side. It’s a little annoying, but if you can ignore you will save yourself the trouble of losing your nerves constantly. Dressing up conservatively may also help bring fewer stares.
- Shopping: Shopping in India is a delight! You can pick nice souvenirs at flea markets and buy lots of colorful clothes, shoes, handmade stuff at very reasonable prices. Just don’t forget to bargain if you are buying from an open market. The prices are usually inflated and a little to a lot of bargaining may be done depending on the market you are in.
- Hospitality: Indians are known for their hospitality.“Athithidevobhava” is a code of conduct for Hindus, found in one of the ancient Hindu scripture. It simply means to treat the guests as ‘God’.
- Spirituality: The Yoga in vogue in these modern times as a fitness routine that involves bending, stretching and twisting the body in various forms, is in reality only the physical-aspect of the spiritual tradition of yoga( which literally means to Join or a Union with God or Self) (the highest form of consciousness) involves much more than the physical discipline. It’s an overall discipline and turning of the mental, vital, and physical being inwards to a higher consciousness.
No amount of online research and reading will prepare you for the experience that is India. To get the best out of your holiday in India, keep an open mind and not be in a hurry to judge. With so much crowd, the colors, the aromas ,and myriad of contradictory appearances, the eyes may take a while to adjust and you may feel overwhelmed at times, but just let everything soak in and at the end you of your trip, you are sure to take back with you an experience that will nurture your spirits in ways that you have never imagined! So get ready to set yourself for a lifetime experience! Go India.