INDIASYNCRACIES

ANGEL WITH ATTITUDE

 

Namaste. No doubt you have already been doing some interesting reading about the country you are about to visit. The rich culture, scenic beauty, colourful people and ancient traditions will make your trip to India an experience you will never forget. We at KOKOindia want to make sure you have the best holiday possible, and so we have come up with a few pointers and suggestions to help you make the most of your time in India.

 

  • Food and Drink: The food in India is varied, amazing and truly delicious - especially the street food. Whilst you should be careful about what you eat and where, being overly cautious can restrict your entire Indian experience. Stick to a few sensible guidelines, and you should have no problem. 
    It is unsafe to drink the local tap water, and so we advise you to stick to bottled water and avoid salads, non-peeling fruit (especially sugar cane from stalls) and ice in drinks. All reputable hotels should use mineral water for ice and cooking, and the hotels you have booked with us should be fine. If you are sampling street food, pick a busy stall and ask them to cook things fresh for you.
     
  • Public displays of affection: Apart from the big cities, touching between people of the opposite sex in public is very unusual, even between married couples. It is better not to shake hands with a person of the opposite sex unless the other person extends his/her hand first. The traditional way to greet each other is by bringing your palms together in front of your chest and to say 'Namaste'- a wonderful way to feel part of Indian life.
     
  • Masala Chai: the deliciously sweet and spicy milky tea, which is popular all over India and a major part of its culture. There is no better way to get a feel for a place than to settle down at the local chai stand and watch the world go by...caution, chai can be extremely addictive.
     
  • Indian people are naturally warm and friendly, and always ready to help a visitor to their country. It is still advisable, however, to exercise caution and stay away from over- friendly strangers. Politely refuse offers of food, drink or snacks, especially on public transport, as some travellers have been drugged and robbed in this way.
     
  • Baksheesh: This is a word you will come to hear often! It refers to tipping, bribery and charitable donations. Tipping is not obligatory, but if you choose to reward good service, ten per cent is a good amount. It’s always a good idea to keep a stash of coins handy, but please avoid giving money to begging children – they hardly ever benefit from it themselves. It is far better to give them something to eat or drink, or to donate money to a registered charity for street kids, such as i-india (www.i-indiaonline.com)
     
  • Respect your environment: Be careful when taking photographs, videos or using binoculars – it is always advisable to check with your subject first. No doubt they will cheerfully oblige, but be prepared for baksheesh requests. Please make sure you dress appropriately at all times, and respect the local customs.
     
  • Bargaining: This can be a very enjoyable part of your holiday, and you can usually bargain on most things - however, always try to be fair and to keep it fun and friendly.
     
  • Tricky Situations: If you find yourself in a difficult situation, always avoid confrontation or aggression - simply smile and walk away. India is a peace loving country.
     
  • Friendly Locals: Don’t feel offended if Indians ask you plenty of personal questions - such as how old you are, how much you earn, are you married, do you have children etc. India is a naturally curious nation, and it is simply a way of being friendly.
     
  • Transport: Never purchase tickets through touts or unauthorised agents – if you have not pre-booked your tickets with KOKOindia, your hotel will generally be able to arrange them or to recommend somebody who can. As soon as you arrive at your destination, take steps to arrange your onward trip – buses and trains tend to get booked up, especially first class and tourist quotas.

     

    When travelling by bus, try to sit close to the front, as passengers will keep packing in until there is no room left inside (and they are hanging off the sides and roof) When travelling by taxi or rickshaw, always settle on a fare in advance or make sure the driver goes by a meter.

     

    Be especially vigilant when travelling by train as thieves are constantly in operation – never leave your bags unattended for a second, and always padlock your luggage to a fixed compartment attachment. Use your bag or rucksack as a pillow, and always try to book the top bunk. There are special Women’s Compartments available too.
     

  • Street Safety: Although the vast majority of visitors never experience any problems, it is advisable to wear shoulder bags across the body (impossible to snatch), and to keep money and valuables out of sight. Exercise usual precautions late at night, especially in unlit areas. For women, it may be advisable not to venture outside during major street festivals as they tend to get pretty boisterous – instead, take up a good vantage point on a rooftop or balcony, and watch the fun from there.


  • Noise: India is a vibrant and exciting country, from its bustling cities to its most remote countryside – we strongly recommend that you bring along ear plugs if you are sensitive to noise.