India is really great

Culture shock India - what you should know before traveling

A culture shock can hardly be avoided in India. The crowds are overwhelming and it never gets quiet on the streets: mobile food stalls, stalls with all kinds of goods, hurrying pedestrians, dusty cars, ringing rickshaws, half-naked beggars, sleepy cows.

Sugar cane juice is freshly squeezed in one corner, sacks of spices are lined up and carefully piles of chopped goat heads await their buyers. Skinny men sleep motionless on the side of the road while loudly honking trucks thunder past them.

Ragged children of all ages curiously surround every foreign-looking visitor. Dogs and chickens search the garbage on the street for something to eat.

Dirty, smelly, chaotic and at the same time fascinating, mystical, strange - this is India.

Culture shock India - my experience

Incredible India is beautiful and terrible at the same time. Travelers who have been to the Indian subcontinent are divided into two camps: For some, it is a dreamland to which they return again and again. For the others, it's a simple nightmare that they never want to repeat.

Almost everyone in India suffers culture shock. This is not surprising given the country's “otherness”. But if you seriously try to understand and know at least some of the most important differences, you will also be able to discover the beauty of India more easily behind the ostensible chaos.

Despite many problems and negative headlines, the country is still one very popular travel destinationwhich is not only related to the fact that you can travel very cheaply in India. In hardly any other country can you do that incredible stories experience like in the huge improvisation theater India.

India is an insane, colorful spectrum of different religions, cultures and traditions. Traveling in India has many faces, but unfortunately there are also downsides.

Indian sociability

To escape the attention of the Indians is impossible. As a foreigner, you are the center of interest everywhere. You will be stared at openly, there will be laughter and whispering and, of course, photos will be taken. What is understood in Europe as an unpleasant invasion of privacy is completely normal in India.

In the vast majority of cases, it does not stop with observation from a distance, but you are also showered with questions. While you are plagued with annoying sales tactics at one point, you have to shake off a particularly persistent pursuer on the next street corner.

"Hello, Madam!", "What’s your name?" "Where are you from?" "How are you?" "Please take a look?" "One Rupee please!"

The undivided attention can be very exhausting, especially when you really want to be quiet. How you react depends on the situation at hand. A friendly answer is often seen as an invitation to persevere.

Vehement ignoring actually contradicts our sense of politeness and requires a bit of practice and a sufficiently thick skin - but often proves to be the best strategy to find your way.

The clocks run differently in India

Indians have a clear weakness when it comes to adhering to specific times. Anyone who has already suffered half a nervous breakdown in Germany when the ICE is half an hour late should prepare for hard times in India. Shop opening times, train timetables, bus routes - everything is subject to you certain amount of time. Departure and arrival times are sometimes uncertain.

Anyone who travels through India needs two things above all: patience and time!

The skin color as a status symbol

While we are used to not paying attention to different skin colors, this applies in India Fair skin as a feature of beauty. In conversations with Indians I have often heard reports of a sister or family member who was considered particularly attractive because of her fair complexion.

It is also not uncommon for Indians to show themselves on the street in the company of a light-skinned foreigner or to invite them to their home without further ado. What often seems strange to us is on the one hand a sign honest hospitality, but should also Host status upgrade.

Whether you accept such an invitation should be decided based on your gut feeling! You may be attending a family dinner that you will remember forever. However, if you have a bad feeling or feel taken by surprise, don't hesitate to say no.

A simple trick to refuse an offer politely and without saying a lot is giving religious reasons. Every Indian will accept it without discussion if you decline an invitation on the grounds that your religion currently dictates a strict fast.

Indian hygiene

The hygiene in India cannot be compared even remotely with our European standardswhich puts our organism, which is set up for clean conditions, to a severe test. That is also what makes the culture shock in India, because severe diarrhea afflict almost all travelers with only a few exceptions. Often times, compliance with all hygiene rules is not spared.

It therefore makes sense if you equip your first-aid kit accordingly or, if necessary, seek advice from a pharmacy on site. Here you will find my tips on what to do best with diarrhea.

When diarrhea is mentioned, it must be mentioned at the same time that it is There are few public toilets in India and when they do, they are often in an absolutely desolate state. Even in restaurants or sights you will sometimes look in vain.

Often men can be seen crouching by the wayside and relieving themselves. Women, on the other hand, often prefer to drink as little as possible, even when it is very hot, in order to hold out until the evening.

As a traveler, it is advisable to plan well when going to the toilet and to use every possible opportunity "prophylactically". Public authorities, museums and hotels usually have the best chance of finding a toilet.

I have also written travel tips & practical information about the following countries: Thailand, Geogy, Albania, Botswana and Mongolia

Tip in India

Often, travelers are approached on the street or in sights by locals who are offer as a guide. In order to show appreciation for this help, a small fee expected. So you should always have enough change in your pocket or you should clearly refuse any assistance from the outset.

The staff in hotels or restaurants are usually not paid lavishly and rely on tips. Depending on the restaurant arebetween five and ten percent of the invoice amount appropriate. In the case of better restaurants, it can also happen that the service fee is already included in the invoice amount.

For everyday serviceshow they z. B. be done by a driver, the toilet lady, a porter or the housekeeper, you give around 10 to 20 rupees per day or even 50 rupees if someone was particularly helpful and nice.

The taboo subject of sex

Sex is considered a taboo subject in India. Traditionally, sex only exists in marriage - caresses or even kisses between a man and a woman are unthinkable in public.

If a woman is seen with a man who is not her spouse, she will quickly become the victim of defamation. Female travelers grapple with similar prejudices, especially when traveling alone. They are considered particularly permissive. If a foreign woman walks past a group of men, she is quickly the center of attention, openly stared at or even followed with laughter, whistles and snaps.

Ignoring, avoiding eye contact and moving on quickly is the best behavior here.

Generally speaking, as a woman in India you should not much skin to show. Bare legs and shoulders or a deep neckline are seen by men as a form of provocation, especially since Indian women are always very careful to keep a low profile.

I have had good experiences with dressing more masculine, with long trousers, sturdy shoes and shirts. It is best to always keep a reasonable distance from men, avoid eye contact and try to avoid crowds because they are often used to approach foreign women.

Shoes as a weapon

Shoes come into contact with the protection of the road and are usually made of leather, the skin of dead animals. They are therefore considered unclean and are stripped off in front of temples and in most private homes. The tanning of leather, as well as the making and cleaning of shoes, is considered to be menial work.

If an Indian is in the highest anger, he pulls his shoe off and threatens his opponent with it. If he actually strikes, that is a maximum humiliation.

If you feel extremely annoyed, then you can use the same threatening gesture, which should quickly show its effect. In the worst emergency, you can also strike with your shoe to ward off intrusiveness.

Indian gestures

Different countries, different gestures. If an Indian thinks "yes", then he swings his head sideways as if he wanted to bring his ears towards his shoulders. A “no”, on the other hand, is often nothing more than a brief head shrug. Differentiating these gestures can be quite difficult, especially at the beginning of a trip, especially since Indians often do not want to be impolite and Avoid saying no to foreign guests.

Who wants to change money, can z. For example, simply put the banknote on the table and use the edge of your hand to make the "chopping" gesture. If you are urgently looking for a toilet, the gesture is usually understood when you shake your hand at the level of your buttocks.

Anyone who stays in the big cities will certainly experience a different India than in the country. South India is very different from the north. While some quickly get a culture shock and flee India after a short time, others find the love of their life.

Visa India - what you should consider

If you want to travel to India, you need a visa. There is an option to apply for an e-Visa on the official application page of Indian immigration authorities.

If you don't feel like working your way through the somewhat confusing English online process, you can also get the help of a German visa agency take advantage of. There you can easily apply for an India visa in German. Here you can find more information about the costs and payment options.

Austrian citizens can apply for an India visa here (more information about the validity of the India visa).

Have you already been to India? How was your experience?

You can find even more interesting facts and personal experiences about India at Wolfgang vonGroovy PlanetIndia! Culture, clichés & sacred cows.