Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Things They Don't Tell You About: India

India is an incredible place, but there is a steep, steep learning curve that comes along with it! I have never been the type to go anywhere unprepared,  no matter the destination.

Everywhere I've ever traveled as an adult has been accompanied by a guide-book of some kind, often a phrase-book too, which I feel allows me to be as prepared as I can be, while online research helps me to assimilate the cultural differences more easily as I know what to expect from the get-go. If you've read this post, you'll know that I was pretty thrown by everything India.

So, what have I learned?

1. People Will Stare At You (At Least)

Just accept this and move on. You will be stared at, you might be approached by people who want to talk to you, or take a selfie with you. If you're a pale and pasty person, it's one thing, but if you're blonde, red, or any "unnatural" hair color, you're going to get more looks than if you're a pale brunette.

Other things you may experience is shouting. It's not meant maliciously, as in my experience Indians are warm, welcoming and so friendly. They're just curious about you. You are different after all. I've had people pull in off the road to talk to me, but I usually try to politely say no and keep walking.

I've also had people hang out of their car or busses to stare as they pass by. It's fine. It's just curiosity, and that's okay.

2. The Poverty Will Shock (And Probably Upset) You

It's not uncommon in India to see a big glass shopping mall full of high-end brands beset by shanty-villages full of huts and makeshift houses. It's also pretty common to see people washing on the side of the road in broad daylight. It's pretty upsetting to see. There are kids running barefoot, street-dogs roaming around and other sights that you won't see in the west. It's tough to take, and it is deeply upsetting, but in most cases, people are seen smiling and happy no matter their situation. I guess the thought is that it can always be worse.

3. They Will Do Some Things Better And Some Things WAY Worse

Things India does better than Ireland: Ice-cream, microwave popcorn, customer service (even if it is annoying), affordable technology, jewelry (specifically gold and diamonds), cheap taxis (Uber and OLA - represent!), bar culture, colorful everything.

Things India absolutely does not do better than Ireland: Burgers, Mexican food, kitchens (don't even get me started!), time-keeping, leaving you to browse in shops (the culture is to be helpful to the point of annoying), grocery stores.

I find almost all of the pros outweigh the cons of this country. The food is all incredible, and so so cheap! Even when we go for a fine-dining meal, it's still very cost-effective. Transport is so affordable it's actually causing me anxiety about going back to Dublin prices!!

4. It's So Much Bigger Than You Can Imagine

The city we live in, Hyderabad, is huge. Honestly, it's on a scale I really could not come to terms with until we got here. I had thought to myself that I would go and visit this place and that place until I wrapped my head around the sheer scale of the place!

For context, Hyderabad city is AS BIG as Dublin COUNTY. The center of the city, the Old City around Charminar and Chowmalla Palace is equal to the "Dublin City Centre" area in terms of size. It's pretty hard to walk anywhere unless it's under 15 minutes away.

5. Despite Everything You Will Be Warned About, India Has An Irresistible Charm

You will see trash on the side of the road, but you'll also see the most colorful lorries around. People will stop you for selfies, but they will be so lovely to you, that you won't even mind. You will be seen as "wealthy" by street bazaar vendors and they will try to double the regular price, but if you haggle, they will smile at you and see you as one of their own. Your Indian friends that you make might underestimate your ability to assimilate, but when you do, they will be so proud and dub thee "Part-Indian".

Remember, when you come here, it's a learning curve that you need to give some time to in order to surmount it. With that said, it's a wonderful country, you're going to love it here.


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