This is a collection of some curious things we’ve observed while travelling in India – some of which we truly wish we could un-see – and lessons learned about participating in the local culture.
- How many is too many? 8 adults in a rickshaw (tuk-tuk), 4 adults on a motorcycle, 2 adults + 4 children on a motorcycle, 2 adults + 2 goats on a motorcycle, 2 adults + 2 children on a bicycle..
- Relatively early on a Sunday morning on the 4-lane interstate thru Delhi, elephants and camels transporting loads of goods.
- The key to crossing any street is to adopt the herd mentality – find 2-3 other people also wanting to cross, bunch together, and basically just walk out in traffic..
- There’s an educational campaign to teach people unfamiliar with a western-style toilet how to properly utilize them, complete with signs depicting a person squatting on top of a toilet seat with a red circle and line through it. I’m not sure how successful they think the campaign is, but I’ve seen shoe prints on numerous public toilet seats, so clearly there’s a ways to go!
- Where is it acceptable to go to the bathroom? If you’re a guy, pretty much anywhere. Women are either much more discreet or find other more civilized ways to answer nature’s call, but the fella’s just let it out wherever!
- Lying to tourists seems to be a national past time.
- Don’t take anything anyone tries to hand you unless you’ve asked for it and intend to pay for it, don’t ever agree to go to a market or a bazaar – that’s just a ploy to get you into a high-pressure sales situation for some allegedly local made craft.
- For the ladies: if asked your name don’t answer or say I don’t know; if asked if it’s your first time in India or <insert city name here> answer no, many times; if offered hand to shake, put your hands together and say “Namaste”. Many areas in India are not overwhelmingly progressive where the interaction between men and women is concerned. Women have separate queues for anything requiring a security check, separate train cars in some instance, a separate queue at the train station – well, separate but lumped in with handicapped people and senior citizens.