Don’t let the media feed your fear
In a digital era, it’s very hard to filter information. Media publishes content that provokes interest and some emotional reaction. The negative or controversial reaction makes content even more popular and discussed. This fact has made India famous for poverty, poor attitude towards women and rape cases. Though it’s important to be informed, be realistic and critical about the information you are reading. The published news often skip the brighter side of India about technological progress, improved women safety, big market opportunities to name a few. Most of the services you might require in India are now in the phone – either in apps or online. You just think of an issue and google will give exciting options of Indian startups ready to solve it.
Be flexible about plans and expectations
Try to accept the cultural specifics in India without comparing with the reality or background you come from. There will be certain things that will happen and certain things that will not. You will discover that “Yes” doesn’t always mean Yes, and you will rarely hear a “No” from an Indian. To save you from frustrations about delays, cancellations and other random situations that will pop up, always try to have a “plan B”. Whatever changes will happen in your initial plan, they will build a new experience, which will open a different part of India for you.
Plan in advance
If you are not coming with a tour company with a predefined plan, try to make most of arrangements for your trip at least 3 weeks before arrival. In India, intercity transport tickets disappear faster than falling stars. It’s a different system compared to European countries where you can buy a ticket and hop on the train the same day. In India, it’s advisable to book tickets at least 2 weeks in advance on regular days, and 1 month in advance during big holidays like Holi and Diwali. This rule also works for budget stay offers. Remember – several million people are looking for the same thing simultaneously with you, so try to be fast in booking great deals.
Everyone does it and you should not be an exception. Pricing is generally higher for foreigners since there is a misconception among sellers in India that tourists are rich. I would advise asking an opinion from local people how much something should cost. If you are in the local markets evaluate the look of the seller. Don’t bargain with artists or farmers. They already earn money hard way and they are very humble. Merchants with chick phones in their hands are the right target to master negotiation skills. You can use saved money from a purchase either for another Indian experience or for buying food for the poor. There are many people living on the streets in India. You might save minimum 4 dollars from one purchase, but this is enough to buy lunch for 3-4 homeless people in the city. In addition to the social cause, you will also improve your negotiating skills. India is a great teacher in this!
To be continued…
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