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I’d Never Do It Again

India is the best worst country ever. Everyday is a struggle because everything you do is an exhausting adventure. Expect it to take a day to book a train ticket or send some post and then hope its not longer. You can never be prepared for the filthy streets and the poverty you will see. Indian TV advertises cosmetics and toiletries and you wonder ‘Who the hell buys soap round here?’. Indians are impatient and hate rules, red lights mean about as much as the ‘don’t spit signs’ and queues consist of bundling towards whatever it is your meant to be queuing for. Oh, and they have no idea what personal space is. The book shops are full of ‘go get ’em’ self-help books teaching ‘How to improve your American-English accent’ and the streets are full of ‘go get‘em’ people out to rob you for every rupee you own. When you have your backpack on in the sweltering heat you will have to pick your way through the relentless souvenir salesmen, ‘I don’t want your coconut monkey!’. Even if you are riding on a bus you will have to turn down offers of a ride in a rickshaw. But its shit loads of fun and even when you get ripped off, its still a god damn bargain. The government pumps money into seemingly pointless schemes to ‘remove posters from walls’ yet are ignorant to the rotting faeces that lie just below that poster. Homes/shacks will house 8 family members in tiny concrete, windowless rooms, yet pride themselves in owning TV’s and DVD players. You walk around like a diseased movie star, they stare, take photos (some times they ask) try to touch you, and charge you inflated prices for everything. But you can understand why-walking around India with your house on your back just to ‘look at stuff’ seems unfathomable to them. No wonder they presume we are walking wallets; we have enough money to travel their entire country at will, in any class and stay in hotels, for weeks and clearly have no job tying us down back in Blighty.

India is a juxtaposition of your sense, you feel both angry and compassionate for the rickshaw man that is desperate to rip you off so he can save for his child’s school uniform. At the train station there is a woman eating off the floor to your left and a man charging his mobile phone to your right. The Taj Mahal, ‘a tear drop on the face eternity’ is surrounded by some of the dirtiest, smelliest and poorest streets known to man. Everything is in stark contrast.

5 Tips for India:
Always have a plan before you leave your hotel to avoid as many difficulties as possible. If you get your Lonely Planet out in the street you may as well tie meat to your extremities and jump into a lion cage. Imagine having 10 money-thirsty Indians surround you ushering you in different directions, telling you contradicting stories and pulling at the LP while you try and work out where the hell the bus stand is meant to be.

Always ask the price before, then confirm and reconfirm. Never assume anything; the maximum retail price (MRP) printed on the side of the packet is not the standard price to pay it should be the absolute maximum. This is rarely the case, twice (in six weeks) we got it cheaper!

Ease yourself in gently. India is a shock to the system when you first arrive but after a while your standards drop as hygiene becomes a distant memory and you are quite happy to snuggle into the dirty sheets.

Busses travel at 20 km/h. It doesn’t matter how many times the word ‘express’ is written on the bus, how revved up the engine sounds or how many cars you overtakes around blind corners, the time it will take you to get there will always be distance/20. (Thanks Eode for that one). We found it even works with car journeys as well.

Don’t be afraid to eat in that hole-in-the-wall. As long as it’s relatively busy (higher turnover of food=fresher food), the kitchen doesn’t entirely resemble a toilet, and the food is served hot. Some of the best (and cheapest) meals we had were in absolute dives. Don’t drink the tap water though, even if the locals are-they have stomachs of steel, you however, will be pooping for weeks.

  1. Nads (Reply) on Tuesday-9, 2010

    I like the sound of india

  2. V & J (Reply) on Tuesday-9, 2010

    hahahah you would love it Nards!!!

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