BLACK IN INDIA
November 2015 was my first visit to India. After 7 years of marriage, my 2 year old daughter and I were finally going to be meeting our extended family. We had ventured on this initial trip with my husband’s parents as our security detail, entourage, and everything in between. We are looking forward to this being one of many visits for our daughter who daily asks us about going back to In-na (India). I knew being African-American and heading to India would be met with looks of “hold up, wait a minute” but these 30 other things even surprised me.
Here are 30 things I wish I knew before traveling to India:
1.) Foreigners pay higher prices for entry to attractions and for tour guides (on average .50cent+ more).
2.) Foreigners don’t have to pay higher prices for entry to attractions if they have a vocal Mother-In- Law like mine that is willing to SHUN this. My Mother in Law was so unwavering about me not paying a higher price than the rest of our family. She snapped back at the guard/person at the counter in Hindi “NO (nehe नहीं ) this is my son, his wife, and their daughter and they are visiting from South Africa.” We aren’t from South Africa but from the U.S. And this actually worked 9/10 times and I paid the National price.
3.) If you are Indian it is assumed that you are a National/ still a citizen of India even if you are from the US.
4.) The traffic is actually worse than New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago traffic combined.
5.) What rules of the road? They don’t exist!! That’s right there are literally cars, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians all headed towards each other at the same TIME. Ahhhhh, yes I’m praying in the car hoping we survive! It is absolutely terrifying.
6.) Since there are no rules of the road. There are also no seat belts for passengers, nor are they required.
7.) There are no car seats! I had to be a human seat belt for my daughter as we braved hours upon hours of travel in the car. She got so accustomed to me holding her that when we got home it took us nearly a month to get her back in her car seat.
8) If you are using a stroller or baby carrier everyone will know that you are a foreigner. These items are rarely seen with the exception of upscale malls. If you decide to use a stroller make sure it is an inexpensive ($10) one that you don’t care about getting DIRTY!
9.) There is meat everywhere and it is amazing! Even though India and Indians are predominately vegetarian lots of restaurants serve meat: chicken and lamb. The lamb seekh kabab, chicken tikka masala, and tandoori chicken we ate at restaurants was actually better than in the US. **Be sure you go to a nice upscale restaurant.
10.) There are adult beverages in many restaurants; so much for the Discovery channel.
11.) The shopping markets are excellent and they are everywhere.
12.) When out shopping on the main roads make sure you are ready to “bob and weave” so you don’t get HIT. Unfortunately drivers aren’t going to be considerate of you and you will find them honking at you to get out of the way.
13.) India has some of the most phenomenal cultural shows (e.g. Chokhi Dhani ).
14.)You can ride an elephant at some attractions and you can ride a camel from the parking lot to an attraction you are visiting.
15.) There are breath-taking castles. One in particular that we visited in Jaipur was made of pink sand stone.
16.) Some people have never seen foreigners. Get ready to have them take your picture, a video of you, and stare non-stop like you are a top rated movie out for new release (especially if you are Black). A greater perspective on this http://afreel.com/index.php/player/4/294
17.) There is heavy pollution. So much so that at times you may find yourself gasping for air.
18.) There are loose dogs, cows, horses, and monkeys roaming the streets. Our daughter was so infatuated with seeing monkeys out in the open that when we got home she asked where are the monkeys at?
19.) You will find yourself wanting to wear Indian clothes everywhere because everyone DOES. Why did I bring these American clothes again? This may even help you avoid #1-2.
20.) You can smell Delhi as you start the descent in the plane. There is a musk of heavily burned wood.
21.) You have to show your passport to get into the airport. This is probably a tactic we should use in the US.
22.) There is no toilet tissue in a lot of establishments just an empty pitcher and faucet. Hmm, what am I suppose to do with that? Wiggling from side-to-side will get old. Bring your own tissue!
23.) Often in public facilities you will find that there is no toilet. Welcome to doing #1 and #2 while crouching around a hole in the ground. Hold it if you can! Otherwise again bring your own tissue!
24.) There are open public urination stations in the middle of some major streets. Can you say, HELLO there are no doors, we can see you!
25.) If you can work your nerves up to it have chai (tea) at a street stand. It is AMAZING!
26.) If you get sick go to the doctor. Simply tell them your symptoms and they will give you medication. No exam needed.
27. If you are standing in line at an attraction people may decide to jump in front of you and act like they didn’t do anything wrong. No we didn’t hold our tongues:).
28.) You can get your US prescribed medicine without a prescription.
29.) Going to the dentist is SUPER cheap! How do I know this?Middle of the night head butt by our daughter had us at the dentist. My family knows the rest of this traumatic experience. That’s right I’ll never tell!
30.) If you are visiting family for the first time they will treat you like it is Christmas morning every day. I want to go back already!
Are you a foreigner that has traveled to India? What has your experience been like? Post a comment. Subscribe. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at Growing Up Gupta.