Monday, October 28, 2013

11 not so stellar, yet essential experiences in India

Ah India, breath it in. Well, don’t breath in too deep, unless you want to inhale an amalgamate of cow excrement, exhaust fumes, and intoxicating splendors of the tongue. While India has a seemingly infinite array of places to go and attractions to visit, the truth is that not everything goes forth as planned. While the list of essential experiences in India is ever expanding, there are, of course, inevitable less-than-stellar situations one will face. Alas, with travel being an exercise in exorcising judgment, here is a list of 11 experiences you are bound to have while in India that may test your patience.

1.)    Stepping in cow pies – Cows are literally roaming free everywhere in India. Even if you aren’t a big beef fan, by the end of your trip you’ll find yourself engrossed with these massive, majestic creatures. The only down side is the amount of excrement the behemoths can create. For those who aren’t aware of where they walk, a foot in shit is definitely in your future. Don’t worry, though, it happens to everyone. In fact, most people see it as a sigh of good luck! 

2.)    Being gored by a seemingly shanti cow – While most the cows are pretty calm and sweet, some of them get annoyed with being touched, slapped, and almost killed by Indian helicopters (rickshaws) on the daily. Ergo, if you mess with the bull, be prepared to get the horns. Just try and make sure you aren’t the one in close enough proximity to be on the receiving end of a powerful head butt.

3.)    Getting clipped by a vehicle cruising through narrow streets – Using a general word like “vehicle,” is the only way to describe all the things that can kill you on Indian streets. Be it a motorbike, car, jeep, rickshaw, human rickshaw, bicycle, or a stampede of goats, if you don’t get out of the way, you are going to feel the pain. Your best bet is to stay your course and let the conductor of the vehicle weave around you.

4.)    Involuntarily participating in a large scale scam- While some of the occurrences on this list are easy to laugh off, this one unfortunately is not. In many parts of India (mostly large cities) large scale scams are created to extort money from tourists. The scam starts with a taxi driver, but usually involves friends placed throughout the city, at hotels, restaurants, and even tourist attractions. Most of the time you end up being taken to a fake destination, or told your hotel has been burned down or closed. In any light, these scams pry on the na├»ve and the caring, and end up costing most people their Indian innocence. 

5.)    Being lied directly to your face- I’ve been told that maybe fibs mean different things in different cultures, but in many parts of India, they are words which local people say to foreigners. I’m not saying all Indians are liars, but those who interact with tourists seem to have no problem saying something that is absolutely untrue directly to your face.

6.)    Getting hustled by a “holy man” – If a person wants give you tika on your forehead or pray for your family at a holy site, it’s gonna cost you. Be prepared to decline their offer or else dish out a tip you think is fare (which will be scoffed at).

7.)    “Dehli Belly” – …it happens to all of us. Here’s to hoping you are in a nice hotel with a bucket and western toilet! 

8.)    Paying western prices for handmade clothing – This is particular to Rajisthan, but can occur anywhere. India is known for its clothing. Travelers can find fantastic handmade garments for next to nothing. You can even have these clothes tailor made. With that being said, tailors know what their work goes for in the west, so unless you are ready to put on your bargaining face, you may have better luck getting fitted for that fancy suite elsewhere. 

9.)    Taking a rickshaw to the wrong destination and being left – Rickshaw drivers can be dicks. They also don’t care about you or your destination. These ingredients can and will add up to you paying to be taken far away from the destination you are hoping to visit. 

10.) Drinking a bang lassie without realizing what a bang lassie actually is - :)

11.) Having your heart torn out by street children – For most visitors to India, experiencing  extreme poverty is one of the toughest aspects of the trip. The street children seem to know this, milking it to the fullest. Even a stern, cold ass honky like myself has trouble trying to avoid a group of street children. Be prepared for these adorable youngsters trying to hustle you. Just remember, giving money only encourages kids to leave school. As hard as it is to say no, it really is better for the children’s future. 

Hopefully getting passed these situations doesn’t deter you from a visit to India. It may not all be fun and games, but if you are willing to sift through the bad, the good is incredible!

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